November 15, 2023 | Terry Smith

A complete comparison of the most popular Day Surgery Trolleys of 2023 | Reviews & Comparisons

In this article we look at the technical – and sometimes confusing- world of trolleys for day surgery.

There are many products out there professing to be designed for use in day surgery, however many simply lack the functionality to support a wide variety of procedures.

Here are our honest reviews of the 4 most common products on the market today.  In this article, we attempt to provide an unbiased review of these products – and then leave you to make up your mind.

AneticAid QA4

There’s a reason we’re starting with the QA4 – it’s extremely well-known in the UK day surgery market.  AneticAid blazed the trail with day surgery and the QA4 is a well-designed and high-quality product supported with great backup.

Pros of the QA4

  • Electrical Height Adjustment
  • Electrically powered backrest
  • Great range of surgical accessories
  • Electrical Lateral Side Tilt
  • Longitudinal Slide
  • Fifth Wheel
  • Low Start Height
  • Safe Working Load

Electrical Height Adjustment

The QA4 adjusts from 605 to 1005mm.    This means that its start height is lower than its closest 2 competitors – this can’t be a bad thing when considering patient mobilisation.  The OpMaster does however go lower.

Electrically powered backrest

Having a powered backrest potentially means a smoother operation compared to a hydraulic or gas-assisted backrest.  It also makes small tweaks to the backrest angle much easier.

Great range of surgical accessories

Not many trolleys like this will be used on their own as most need a range of accessories to adapt the standard model for different procedures.  AneticAid advertise over 40 different accessories in their QA4 brochure including stirrups, armboards and their hip fix system.

Electric Lateral Side Tilt

The QA4 offers an electrical side tilt option, offering 12 degrees of movement in both directions.  Not as much as the OpFlex, however, the Rapido’s tilt function is manual which is definitely more challenging to use when the patient is already on the trolley.  The OpMaster does not offer this function at all.

Longitudinal Slide

This is a really helpful feature – 460mm of longitudinal movement (electrically powered) to assist with optimal imaging.  It’s not the only way to achieve this (see OpFlex below) however a clear benefit which is not offered by its competitors.

Fifth Wheel

The QA4 has a separate Fifth Wheel in the middle of the trolley – so when used, the trolley pivots from the middle.  Definitely more controllable than a directional steer wheel which is used by the Rapido and OpFlex.  It’s worth a quick mention that the lever to operate this is somewhat tucked away at the head section which does mean this function is not as well used as it should be.

Low Start Height

As mentioned above, the QA4 goes down lower than the OpFlex and Rapido, which has got to be a good thing.

Safe Working Load

With the challenge of rising obesity, the Safe Working Load has to be a critical factor for a day procedures trolley.  The QA4 has a SWL of 250kg – this is the highest in its class.

Cons of the QA4

  • Adjustability of Backrest
  • The need to remove the leg section for Obstetrics & Gynae
  • Lateral Side tilt angle
  • Compatibility with accessories from other manufacturers
  • Limited transport capabilities
  • X-Ray Translucency
  • 5th Wheel Operation
  • Warranty
  • Kyra Stirrups – not available
  • No divided leg support option

Adjustability of Backrest

The backrest on the QA4 can adjust from 0 to +80 degrees (or 0 to +85 degrees on the electrical model) – so you cannot lower below horizontal.  Compare this to the OpFlex for example where you can adjust the backrest from -40 to +85 degrees and it’s easy to see the difference.

The need to remove leg sections for Obstetrics & Gynae

Some theatres complain of regularly having to lift heavy leg sections off in order to fit knee supports and stirrups for gynae & urology etc.  This is because the leg section cannot be lowered to less than -45 degrees so they are kind of in the way for gynae and obstetrics.  The OpFlex does not have the same issue – see below.

Lateral Side tilt angle (note ref electrical tilt vs manual)

The side tilt angle range on the QA4 is 12 degrees in either direction and you can have a powered or manual version.  Both the Rapido and OpFlex outperform the QA4 in this respect.

Compatibility with accessories from other manufacturers

AneticAid use a specific design of mount which means that it’s harder (and sometimes not possible) to utilise surgical accessories from other manufacturers – particularly headrests.

Limited transport capabilities

In the QA4 user manual, it’s stated “Due to its extra functionality and higher weight capacity this trolley is heavier than a conventional patient transfer trolley and therefore less suitable for this function.  In addition, the trolley has very low ground clearance that may cause problems when traversing uneven ground”  – this does seem an unusual statement for a day surgery trolley where the whole point of the product is to move patients on it.

X-Ray Translucency

Whilst full X-ray translucency is stated, the electric motors are obviously not radiolucent and you cannot scan through them – the most problematic of these is the electric motor for the backrest.

5th Wheel Operation

As stated above, the pedal to deploy the 5th wheel is somewhat tucked away at the head end.  Clinicians don’t always know what this is and hence it’s not used as regularly as it should be.

Warranty

The standard warranty on the QA4 is 1 year – which is shorter than the OpFlex and the Rapido.  Please note that AneticAid offer some extended warranties but it’s good to be clear as to what it’s included as standard.

Kyra Stirrups – not available

The Lift-Assist Lithotomy Stirrups offered with the QA4 are not bad at all, in fact, they’re really adjustable.  You do however need 2 hands to operate and there are a few pinch points to be aware of.  By contrast, the Kyra Stirrups offered with the OpFlex offer one-handed operation, no pinch points and thicker padding in the boot.  It’s easy to understand which one the gynaecologist gravitates to. And did we mention that there’s no Velcro in a Kyra Stirrup? 

No divided leg support option

Having a split leg support gives notable benefits;

  • Ability to abduct the legs and raise/lower individually for gynae
  • Lighter sections to lift when there is a need to remove

 

OpFlex

The OpFlex is manufactured by a well-known company called FAMED, based in Poland. The model number is the SU-14. Whilst not as well known in the UK, this company is over 75 years old and their attention to quality is outstanding. The attention to detail can be noticed in areas such as the universal rails which are deburred by hand to make sure there are no sharp edges.

Pros of the OpFlex

  • Great range of accessories for different procedures
  • Kyra Stirrups – great for gynaecology/lithotomy
  • Adjustability of Backrest
  • Ability to drop Leg Section/s to -90deg
  • Leg Abduction
  • Best Lateral Side tilt angle
  • X-Ray Translucency
  • Trendelenburg Angle
  • Ability to use headrests & positioning accessories from other manufacturers
  • Warranty

Great range of accessories for different surgical procedures

It goes without saying that everyday surgery table needs a good range of quality surgical accessories.  There are over 60 standard accessories to go with the OpFlex. 

Kyra Stirrups – great for gynaecology/lithotomy

As mentioned above, these stirrups are a real game-changer.  Their abduction range is the same as the Lift-Assist stirrups however the lithotomy angle range is -55 to +85 (Lift-Assist ones cannot go below -35).  With no Velcro the Kyra stirrups are better for IPC and the one-handed operation is simply quicker and easier to use. 

Adjustability of Backrest

The OpFlex backrest adjusts from -40 to +85 degrees.  Compare this to the QA4 (0 to +80 degrees as standard) and the Rapido (-4 to +70 degrees) to fully understand just how adjustable the OpFlex backrest is. 

Ability to drop Leg Section/s to -90deg

The reason this is such a positive feature of the OpFlex is because it enables the surgeon to drop the leg section right down and out of the way but there is NO need to remove it when adding stirrups etc.  This saves time and heavy lifting, particularly noticeable when doing a gynae list.

Leg Abduction

It’s also worth noting that the divided legs pivot sideways to allow for leg abduction – a very helpful feature for varicose vein procedures, removing the need to purchase any dedicated accessories to achieve this functionality.

Best Lateral Side tilt angle

The OpFlex tilts to 20 degrees on both sides and this is a powered feature.  The Rapido can tilt to 15 degrees in both directions and is manual; the QA4 to 12 degrees in both directions (both electrical and manual options)

Trendelenburg Angle

There are 20 degrees of Trendelenburg tilt on the OpFlex compared to 12 degrees on the QA4 and 25 degrees on the Rapido.  In some situations, this may make a difference with laparoscopic procedures such as cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal).

X-Ray Translucency

Although there’s no longitudinal shift, the lifting column is mounted at the hip area, meaning the torso is unobstructed for imaging.  The backrest is fully translucent as there’s no motor obstructing the X-Ray field.

Ability to use headrests & positioning accessories from other manufacturers

Thanks to the adapters available, clinicians can use different types of headrests and head positioning accessories from the Famed portfolio and also headrest systems from third parties such as PMI (DORO) or Mayfield.

Warranty

The standard warranty is 2 years and there are longer warranties available.

Cons of the OpFlex

  • No longitudinal shift
  • No dedicated CPR button
  • Gas-assisted backrest
  • Less familiarity

No longitudinal shift

As we stated above, this feature just isn’t available.  There are certain procedures for which this feature is really beneficial.

No dedicated CPR button

For CPR, lowering the backrest with the lever takes only a few seconds.  Although this is pretty quick, it might be that clinicians would naturally look for a dedicated CPR button which may cause an unnecessary delay.

Gas-assisted backrest

An electrical backrest would often offer a smoother angle adjustment – however, the OpFlex is gas-assisted so may be a little less smooth.

Less familiarity

As the OpFlex is still relatively new to the UK, not many clinicians will have had experience in using this product.  It is therefore paramount that staff training is considered and planned for at the initial planning stages.

 

Merivaara Rapido

Merivaara, a Finnish company now owned by Lojer, is another professional and longstanding company that has been trading since 1901.  Again a smaller player in the UK, the Rapido is a good quality but more basic trolley when considered for day surgery.

Pros of the Rapido

  • Lightweight
  • Headrest Adjustment Range
  • Footrest Adjustment Range
  • Best Trendelenburg Angle on the market
  • Warranty

Lightweight

The Rapido weighs only 125kgs – much lighter than the OpMaster, QA4 and the OpFlex which all weigh around 160kgs.

Headrest Adjustment Range

Ok, there’s not as much adjustment as the OpFlex but the Rapido has -40 to+25 degrees of headrest adjustment – 10 degrees more than the QA4.

Footrest Adjustment Range

The angle range is -90 to +4 degrees – so no adjustment elevation but they do drop down out of the way.

Best Trendelenburg Angle on the market

-25 to +18 degrees of adjustment mean that the Rapido has the biggest Trendelenburg range of all comparable products.  This feature will be of most benefit in laparoscopy, and in particular, cholecystectomy.

Warranty

There’s a 2-year warranty as standard – and to be honest, you wouldn’t expect any less.

Cons of the Rapido

  • Hydraulic operation
  • Hook and Loop
  • Limited headrest compatibility
  • Price

Hydraulic operation

Adjusting the height of a trolley hydraulically involves repeated pumping of a foot pedal which can cause a jerky ascent for the patient.  Sometimes there’s a technical or practical reason for this (for example in a field theatre or where there is limited 240V power) – however, it’s hard to fathom why a day surgery table would not have electrical height adjustment.

Velcro-style Hook and Loop

Hook and Loop is a real opinion-divider – whilst it can often be easily changed, it’s fair to say that IPC staff hate it due to its unique ability to attract dirt and fluff.  With other tables and stretchers, you can opt for alternative methods of holding the mattress pieces in place – but with the Rapido, you’re stuck with it (quite literally).

Limited headrest compatibility

Some of the headrests are unique to the Rapido and it appears as if there’s not much ability to use headrests from other manufacturers.

Price

The Rapido is not more expensive; in fact, it’s priced on a par with other products – however, there are no electric functions at all so it might be considered that you’re getting less for the same money.

 

OpMaster

The OpMaster is reasonably well-known of old, particularly in ophthalmology circles and is manufactured in the UK by Lab-Med Ltd.  It’s a more basic unit but does have some well-developed features for ophthalmology & ENT.  In recent years it would appear as if the OpMaster has lost a lot of market share but it wouldn’t be our place to speculate why.

Pros of the OpMaster

  • Electrically adjustable headrest
  • Price
  • Lowest Start Height on the market
  • SWL

Electrically adjustable headrest

This feature is probably why eye surgeons have historically gravitated to the OpMaster – it’s much easier to make small adjustments with this electrical feature.

Price

The unit price is notably less than all of its competitors (nearly a £2000 difference).  Yes, a more basic unit, but good to know it’s cost-effective.

Lowest Start Height on the market

At 578mm lowest height, this is officially the lowest day surgery trolley in it’s class.

SWL

At 225kgs SWL, the OpMaster is only beaten by the QA4 for the weight it can support. 

Cons of the OpMaster

  • Ongoing reliability challenges
  • No side tilt function
  • No longitudinal slide function
  • Limited ability to use third-party headrests
  • No divided leg support

Ongoing reliability challenges

Trusts continue to report reliability problems with the OpMaster, particularly with the electrics.  This is a real shame and probably fixable by the company, however, this still seems to be the case.

No lateral tilt function

There’s no lateral side tilt at all on the OpMaster; this will naturally limit its usefulness for general surgery and laparoscopy.

No longitudinal slide function

Like the OpFlex and Rapido, there is no longitudinal slide function.

Limited ability to use third-party headrests

Due to the way the headrests are mounted on the OpMaster, this does limit the surgeon from being able to choose a third-party headrest.

No divided leg support

There is only a single-piece leg support available so if this feature is essential, the OpFlex would be the product to consider.

 

Summary

Hopefully, this article has served to explain some of the key differences between each day surgery trolley and educate the reader as to what to look for.  Ultimately the best judge for this is you though, and there’s no better way to form a judgement than to trial the equipment in your hospital.

Felgains are exclusive suppliers of the OpFlex Day Surgery Trolley, and we offer the option for you to trial in your hospital – click here to find out more.

 


 

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Author

Terry Smith

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