Jackson table vs Wilson frame

Discover the key differences between the Jackson Table and Wilson Frame for spinal surgery and surgery done in prone position. Compare their benefits, features, and applications to determine the best option for optimal patient outcomes.

The Jackson Table is a specialized operating room table designed for spinal surgeries and procedures where precise positioning of the patient is crucial. Unlike the Jackson table that is an actual Operating room bed that comes with many attachments, the Wilson frame is a medical device use for surgical procedures that requires a patient to be prone.

Orthopedic surgeons often face the decision between utilizing the Jackson Table or the Wilson Frame for positioning patients during spinal surgeries. Understanding the distinctive features and applications of these two devices is essential for making informed choices that align with specific surgical requirements.

In this realm of orthopedic surgery, the choice between the Jackson Table and the Wilson Frame plays a significant role in achieving successful surgical outcomes. These two positioning devices offer distinct benefits and considerations, making it crucial for surgical teams to weigh their merits based on the specific needs of each procedure.

Prone Jackson (with Mayfield head clamp)

Prone Jackson table with Mayfield attachment
Prone Jackson table with Mayfield attachment

Wilson Frame

Wilson frame device
Wilson frame device

List of Differences between the Jackson table and the Wilson frame

1. The Jackson table is a specific operating room bed while the Wilson frame is just an extra Attachment for the surgical bed.

2. The Jackson table Has many Functions, for example it can do a full rotational flip from supine to prone while the Wilson frame cannot perform a rotational flip.

3. The Jackson Table can carry a patient supine, prone ,lateral or Trendelenburg while a Wilson frame is only design for prone Position.

4. The Jackson table is ideal for longer procedures with patient in prone position while the Wilson frame is for shorter procedure.

5. The Jackson table can accommodate patients with higher BMI while the Wilson frame is not recommend for heavier patients.

What is Jackson operating room table?

The Jackson table was developed by Dr. Crawford W. Long in the mid-20th century, specifically to facilitate spinal surgeries. Here are some key features and information about the Jackson Table.

The versatility of the Jackson Table lies in its modular design, which allows the use of a single base with three interchangeable tops tailored for a wide range of surgical procedures and services.

The frame supports a variety of procedures including; Orthopedic Fracture ,Trauma, Pelvic Reconstruction, Orthopedic and Neuro-Spine, Pain Management, and general procedures.

The Advanced Control Modular base of the Jackson table can hold three different tops including; the Spinal Surgery Top, Radiolucent Imaging Top, and the Orthopedic Trauma Top. Attached to the Advanced control base, the Spinal Surgery top, provides exceptional C-arm and O-arm access and is capable of bearing up to 500 pounds. It has a unique design that allows the surgeon to rotate the patient safely about the horizontal axis.

C-Arm about to take images during a spine procedure  on Jackson table
C-Arm about to take images during a spine procedure on Jackson table

The rotational capability provides many unique advantages including specific imaging techniques. It allows the ability to perform a 360-degree rotation without removing the patient from the Jackson table, combining the anterior and posterior positioning during a single operating room visit.

The 180-degree patient rotation sequence on the Jackson table is designed to allow a patient to be rotated completely from the supine to the prone position or visa versa. Make sure to read the positioning sequence described in your operator’s manual to do this safely. In most instances, the patient will be repositioned for posterior spine surgery after the anterior spine surgery has been completed.

  • Purpose: The primary purpose of the Jackson Table is to provide optimal access to the spine during surgical procedures. It allows for precise positioning, including flexion, extension, lateral bending, and rotation of the spine.
  • Design: The table is characterized by its radiolucent (transparent to X-rays) surface, which allows for intraoperative imaging without the need to reposition the patient. The table itself is often constructed from carbon fiber or similar materials.
  • Articulation: One of the notable features of the Jackson Table is its ability to articulate or adjust in various ways. This includes adjustments in height, tilt, and lateral tilt, which allows surgeons to achieve the desired position for the patient.
  • Padding and Restraints: It often comes with specialized pads and restraints to secure the patient in the desired position while ensuring their safety and comfort during surgery.
  • Application: The Jackson Table is particularly favored in procedures like spinal fusions, laminectomies, and other types of spinal surgery where precise access and alignment are critical. It is especially useful for surgeries that require extensive access to the spine.

7 Advantages of Jackson table

  1. Precise Positioning: The table allows for highly accurate positioning of the patient’s spine, which is crucial for the success of many spinal procedures. Its also allows for precise and accurate positioning for hip, pelvic and thigh leg Orthopedic Fracture surgery.
  2. Reduced Need for Repositioning: Due to its flexibility, the Jackson Table often reduces the need for repositioning during surgery, which can save time and reduce the risk of complications.
  3. Optimal surgical positioning: The Jackson table allows for precise patient positioning, including flexion, extension, lateral tilt, and rotation. Surgeons can adjust the table to achieve the optimal position for accessing the surgical site, improving visibility and surgical access.
  4. Reduced risk of complications: By providing stable and secure positioning during surgery, the Jackson table helps reduce the risk of complications such as nerve damage, pressure ulcers, and musculoskeletal injuries. Proper positioning also facilitates better blood circulation, which can aid in preventing intraoperative complications.
  5. Enhanced surgical efficiency: The versatility of the Jackson table enables surgeons to perform complex procedures with greater efficiency. With the ability to easily adjust patient positioning during surgery, surgeons can maintain optimal exposure of the surgical site without the need for manual repositioning or multiple table changes, saving time and improving workflow.
  6. Improved patient safety and comfort: The Jackson table is designed to provide maximum patient safety and comfort during surgery. Its cushioned surface helps distribute pressure evenly, reducing the risk of pressure ulcers and discomfort during prolonged procedures. Additionally, the secure positioning offered by the table minimizes the risk of patient movement or instability during surgery.
  7. Facilitates minimally invasive techniques: The Jackson table is compatible with various minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as endoscopic spine surgery and laparoscopic procedures. Its adjustable features allow surgeons to achieve the optimal positioning required for performing these advanced techniques with precision and accuracy, resulting in better outcomes for patients.

Consideration when using the Jackson Table

  • Cost: Jackson Tables are specialized equipment and can be relatively expensive compared to standard surgical tables.

Accessories of the Jackson table.

  • Mayfield head clamp .

Mayfield head clamp attach to Jackson bed

Mayfield head clamp attach to prone Jackson bed

  • positioning kit with padding and prone foam face pillow.

prone Jackson table kit.

Jackson table foam face pillow hip and arm padding

  • attachable H-frame.


  • Hand and arm surgery attachment.
  • Attachment w/clamp.
  • Traction unit

Jackson with leg attachment Traction unit

  • Radiolucent Wilson frame attachment.

above photo Jackson with radiolucent Wilson frame.

  • Rotatable Arm rest attachments
  • Thigh and hip paddings

Example hip and thigh pad for prone Jackson table

All in one hip and thigh pad for prone Jackson Table

What is the Wilson Frame?

Wilson Frame on a regular O.R bed

A Wilson frame, also known as a Wilson bed or Wilson surgical bed, is a specialized piece of medical equipment used in orthopedic and surgical settings. It is named after the American orthopedic surgeon William Wilson.

The Wilson frame is designed to provide support and stabilization for patients during certain surgical procedures, particularly those involving the lower limbs, pelvis, or spine. It consists of a sturdy metal frame with adjustable components to accommodate various positions and angles needed for specific surgical techniques.

Key features of a Wilson frame may include:

  • Adjustable Sections: The frame typically has adjustable sections, allowing for modifications in height, angle, and position to meet the requirements of the surgical procedure.
  • Padding and Straps: The surface of the frame is usually padded to enhance patient comfort. Additionally, it may have straps or restraints to secure the patient in place during the surgery.
  • Radiolucent Properties: Some modern Wilson frames are designed to be radiolucent, meaning they do not interfere with X-ray imaging. This feature is important for intraoperative imaging guidance.
  • Mobility and Stability: It may have wheels for easy transportation within the operating room, and brakes to secure it in place during surgery.
  • Attachment Points: The frame may have attachment points for various surgical instruments or accessories.
  • Transportable : it can be easily remove from one operating room bed to another and also has an attachment for the Jackson table where it can be easily set up on the Jackson table for use.

Common uses of a Wilson frame include:

  • Orthopedic Procedures: Especially those involving the hip, pelvis, or lower spine.
  • Neurosurgery: For certain spinal procedures where precise positioning is critical.
  • Trauma Surgery: Particularly in cases of severe fractures or dislocations.
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: In procedures that require a specific positioning of limbs or body parts.
  • Vascular Surgery: For procedures that require access to the lower extremities.

It’s important to note that the design and features of a Wilson frame may vary depending on the manufacturer and the specific model. Surgeons and their teams are typically trained on the proper use of this equipment to ensure patient safety and the success of the surgical procedure.

Advantages of using the Wilson frame

The Wilson frame is a medical device used in orthopedics for the management of certain types of fractures, particularly those involving the femur (thigh bone). Here are some advantages of using the Wilson frame:

  • Stability: The Wilson frame provides excellent stability for patients with femoral fractures. It helps immobilize the affected leg, reducing the risk of further damage and allowing for proper healing.
  • Reduces Pain: By immobilizing the fractured limb, the Wilson frame helps to minimize pain and discomfort experienced by the patient. This is crucial for patient comfort and the ability to perform daily activities.
  • Early Mobilization: The frame allows for controlled weight-bearing, which means that patients can start moving around sooner than if they were immobilized in a traditional cast. This early mobilization can help prevent complications associated with prolonged bed rest.
  • Minimizes Pressure Sores: Patients who are immobile for extended periods are at risk of developing pressure sores. The Wilson frame allows for repositioning and movement, reducing the likelihood of pressure ulcers.
  • Adjustability: The frame is designed to be adjustable to accommodate different patient sizes and anatomies. This customization helps ensure a snug and secure fit, optimizing the support provided.
  • Facilitates Rehabilitation: Physical therapy and rehabilitation are essential components of recovery from a fracture. The Wilson frame allows for easier access and participation in rehabilitation exercises, helping patients regain strength and mobility.
  • Allows for Inspection and Care of Wounds: The design of the Wilson frame allows medical professionals to easily access and inspect the surgical site or wounds. This is crucial for monitoring healing progress and preventing complications.
  • Can be Used in Various Positions: The Wilson frame can be adjusted to accommodate different positions, such as sitting or lying down. This versatility allows patients some degree of comfort and functionality in various situations.
  • Reduces the Risk of Complications: By providing stable support, the Wilson frame can help reduce the risk of complications associated with poorly managed fractures, such as malunion, nonunion, or secondary displacement.
  • Patient Comfort and Satisfaction: While any orthopedic device can be initially uncomfortable, the Wilson frame generally provides good comfort for patients compared to other forms of immobilization, particularly for long-term use.
A video on transfer of a patient from a stretcher to the Wilson frame in the operating room.

It’s important to note that while the Wilson frame offers several advantages, its use is indicated for specific types of fractures and patient conditions. The decision to use a Wilson frame should be made by a qualified orthopedic surgeon based on the individual patient’s situation.

Please consult with a medical professional or equipment specialist for the most current and specific information about a Wilson frame, as designs and technologies in the medical field may evolve over time.

Limitations of Jackson table

  • Specialized Use: The Jackson table is primarily designed for spinal surgery. It may not be suitable for other types of surgical procedures, which means that hospitals may need to invest in additional operating tables for different types of surgeries.
  • Positioning Constraints: While the Jackson table is designed to provide a variety of positions for spinal surgery, it may not be as versatile for other types of procedures that require different positioning, such as cardiac or abdominal surgeries.
  • Size and Space Requirements: Jackson tables tend to be large and require a significant amount of space in the operating room. This can be a limitation in smaller or more crowded surgical suites.
  • Cost: Jackson tables are specialized equipment and can be expensive to purchase and maintain. Hospitals may need to carefully consider the budgetary implications of acquiring and maintaining this equipment.
  • Learning Curve: Properly using a Jackson table requires training and expertise. Surgeons and operating room staff need to be familiar with the table’s features and functions to use it effectively and safely.
  • Patient Weight and Size Limitations: Some models of Jackson tables may have weight and size limitations, which could restrict their use for certain patients.
  • Maintenance and Repairs: Like any piece of medical equipment, Jackson tables require regular maintenance and occasional repairs. This can add to the overall cost of ownership.
  • Accessibility and Transfer: Getting a patient onto and off of a Jackson table may be more challenging for certain patients, especially those with mobility issues or other medical conditions.
  • Availability and Backup: If a hospital only has one Jackson table and it requires maintenance or is in use for another procedure, this could potentially lead to scheduling conflicts and delays in surgical procedures.
  • Limited Applicability in Non-Spinal Procedures: While the Jackson table is excellent for spinal surgeries, it may not be the best choice for surgeries that involve other body systems.
  • It’s important for hospitals and surgical teams to carefully consider the specific needs of their patient population and the types of surgeries they perform when deciding whether to invest in a Jackson table. Additionally, having a well-rounded set of operating room equipment is crucial to accommodate various surgical procedures.

Disadvantages of the Wilson Frame

  • Limited Mobility: Patients placed in a Wilson frame generally have restricted mobility. This can be uncomfortable and frustrating for patients, and it can lead to complications such as pressure sores and muscle atrophy if used for extended periods.
  • Not Suitable for All Patients: The use of a Wilson frame is typically limited to patients who meet specific criteria. It may not be appropriate for patients with certain medical conditions, such as those with unstable fractures or severe respiratory issues.
  • Pressure Sores: Prolonged use of a Wilson frame can increase the risk of pressure sores, especially if the patient is unable to change positions or receive regular repositioning.
  • Dependency on Caregivers: Patients in a Wilson frame often require significant assistance from caregivers or healthcare professionals for activities of daily living, including bathing, toileting, and feeding. This can increase the workload on healthcare staff.
  • Psychological Impact: Prolonged confinement to a Wilson frame can lead to psychological stress and discomfort for patients, potentially affecting their overall well-being.
  • Limited Use for Certain Conditions: While Wilson frames are useful for managing specific orthopedic conditions or post-operative care, they are not a universal solution and may not address the needs of patients with other medical conditions.
  • Incompatibility with Some Treatments: Certain treatments or therapies may not be feasible or effective for patients in a Wilson frame, which can limit the range of care options.
  • Transfer and Mobility Challenges: Moving patients in and out of a Wilson frame can be challenging, requiring specialized equipment and trained personnel. This can pose logistical difficulties in a healthcare setting.
  • Potential Complications: If not used properly or if the patient’s condition changes, complications such as joint contractures, muscle weakness, or pneumonia may arise.
  • Impact on Daily Activities: Patients in a Wilson frame may have limited ability to engage in daily activities and participate in rehabilitation exercises, potentially slowing down the recovery process.
  • Patient discomfort and immobility: While the Wilson frame provides stability, it can also be uncomfortable for the patient, particularly during prolonged use. Immobilization for an extended period can lead to muscle atrophy, joint stiffness, and overall discomfort for the patient.
  • Limited access for wound care: The design of the Wilson frame can restrict access to the injured area, making it difficult to perform necessary wound care or surgical procedures. This limitation can hinder the management of complications that may arise during the healing process.
  • Difficulty in transportation: The bulky nature of the Wilson frame can make transportation of the patient challenging. It may require specialized equipment or additional assistance to move the patient safely, particularly in settings such as ambulances or helicopters.

It’s essential for healthcare providers to carefully assess each patient’s condition and needs before using a Wilson frame. While it can be a valuable tool for specific medical situations, its limitations should be taken into account to ensure that it is used appropriately and that patients receive the best possible care. Additionally, healthcare professionals should monitor patients in Wilson frames closely to address any potential complications or discomfort promptly


work experiences , images was taken by author while working with the medical devices.