What is the Trendelenburg position and why do we use it?

Posted on 8 November 2016 in Care Beds

*PLEASE NOTE: We are healthcare equipment suppliers, and therefore are not qualified to give any clinical or medical advice.*

The Trendelenburg position is a topic that crops up regularly when it comes to beds in hospitals. However, it is now something that is also being discussed in the care home sector.

In this article, we will cover what the Trendelenburg position is, how it is used today and how it fits into care homes.

What is the Trendelenburg Position?

Well-established across various fields of medicine, it is a method that places a patient on a 15 to 30 degree incline, positioning the legs higher than the head. There is also a modified version where only the legs are raised.

The Anti-Trendelenburg position involves a patient being placed on the same incline, but the head is higher than the legs.

Trendelenburg Position

Who invented it?

Friedrich Trendelenburg was a prominent German surgeon in the late 19th and early 20th century, and came up with the method initially to improve exposure of the pelvic organs during surgery.

He has had a huge influence on modern surgery, having founded and taught at the German Surgical Society, as well as having a number of procedures named after him.

These include the Brodie-Trendelenburg percussion test (used to identify incompetent valves in superficial veins) and the Trendelenburg position.

How was it used?

Since it was first established, the Trendelenburg position has been used to treat numerous conditions. In its infancy, it was used to treat shock and hypotension, including during World War I, where it was hoped it would increase blood perfusion to vital organs.

However, recent studies dispute the efficacy of this treatment in that area.


How do we use the Trendelenburg position today?

Medical professionals now focus on using it for specialist uses. This includes surgical air embolisms, aiding abdominal hernia reduction, and helping placement of catheters in the internal jugular or subclavian veins.

One of its main benefits in modern healthcare is its use to stimulate blood perfusion in patients with respiratory problems.

The Anti-Trendelenburg position, also known as the Reverse-Trendelenburg position, is also useful, with its benefits relating to the upper body, head and neck.

Laid on their back, the patient is positioned for surgeries where increased exposure is needed in areas like the prostate and upper abdominal region.

It can be also used to increase respiratory function in overweight and obese patients by relieving pressure to the head.

Carried out by trained individuals

However, there are risks of hypotension and reduced blood flow to the brain, neck and genital area. That it is why it is essential that this method treatment should only be carried out by trained individuals to ensure safety.

As stipulated in the Critical Care Unit Planning & Design Notes by the Department of Health and Social Care, it is also important to remember that it is a requirement on ICU beds to include Trendelenburg positioning functions.

This is to make sure ICU beds can facilitate respiration and circulation to aid bodily function.

Read more about ICU Bed specifications and features.

Inclusion In Care Homes

Our Eclipse range of beds offer a perfect blend of style and safety, including options for Trendelenburg and Anti-Trendelenburg tilt.

When it comes to its inclusion in care homes, the Trendelenburg position is usually used to help residents to sit up or raise their legs whilst in bed.

Giving the user positioning control, the Trendelenburg feature is included in care beds for extra comfort and support. Individuals with restricted mobility use the Trendelenburg position day-in-day-out to allow themselves to be comfortable.

Similarly, the Anti-Trendelenburg position is included in care beds to allow the individual’s legs to be lifted. This is especially useful for those who have conditions with restricted blood flow to the feet.

But, like the Trendelenburg position, these features have their downfalls, with patients advised to not spend large lengths of time in these positions.


It is important to note that when it comes to users with dementia or reduced mental ability, the Trendelenburg features are controlled by the caregiver. With that in mind, some care beds — like the Interlude — are now fitted with a locking handset that will only be activated at the carer’s authorisation.


All in all, the history of the Trendelenburg position is rather fascinating!

It has developed and changed quite radically from its initial use in healthcare, and now focuses on long-term postural care and those with restricted mobility.

Healthcare professionals do see this position (or its reverse option) being used every day, but in controlled doses.

In care homes, it can be useful to improve comfort for residents, whether that is helping them get out of bed, or for those with issues with restricted blood flow.

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