The cost to care for a patient with pressure sores can be exorbitant. One part of this expense results from the prolonged postoperative immobilization. Published protocols report 3 to 8 weeks of immobilization; however, there are no studies that establish longer periods to be superior. To justify our 3-week protocol, we conducted a prospective, randomized trial of 2 versus 3 weeks of post-operative immobilization. Each patient was randomized preoperatively to either 2 or 3 weeks of postoperative immobilization. A total of 42 patients with a diagnosis of paraplegia, tetraplegia, or multiple sclerosis and a solitary pressure sore were enrolled over 5 years. The complication rates in the two groups (9 of 23, or 39 percent, for the 2-week group and 9 of 19, or 47 percent, for the 3-week group) were not statistically different (p < 0.493). However, the time to mobilization was significantly reduced in the 2-week group (16.1 ± 6.1 versus 22.9 ± 4.9 days, p < 0.0003), as was the time to achieve sitting (21.2 versus 28.9 days, p < 0.0026). In summary, 2 weeks of postoperative immobilization following surgery is adequate for uncomplicated solitary pressure sores.
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