To determine the current postoperative mobilization care practice patterns of burn surgeons after split-thickness skin grafting and to assess potential inconsistencies in management strategies.
A cross-sectional study of active burn surgeons was conducted with an online questionnaire (SurveyMonkey) comprising 7 demographic and 22 mobilization-related questions.
Seventy-three (22%) of the 337 members of the American Burn Association mailing list consented to participate in the study, of whom 71 completed the demographic questions and 59 completed the mobilization-related questions. The majority of respondents had more than 10 years of burn care experience (68%) and practiced in an American Burn Association–verified center (70%). Standardized postoperative autograft mobilization protocols were used by 68% of respondents. Most (66%) never or rarely immobilized the upper extremity without joint involvement. When the elbow or wrist was involved, 73% always or very often immobilized. Similarly, 63% never or rarely immobilized the lower extremity without joint involvement. Most immobilized when the knee (70%) or ankle (63%) was involved. Immobilization duration was most commonly 3 or 5 days. Most respondents (71%) reported following Nedelec and colleagues' recommendation that “early postoperative ambulation protocol should be initiated immediately after lower extremity grafting,” although there was practice variability.
Our findings reveal that the majority of survey respondents do not immobilize the extremities after autograft without joint involvement. When grafts cross major joints, most surgeons immobilize for 3 or 5 days. Despite some practice variability, surveyed burn surgeons' current lower extremity ambulation practices generally align with the 2012 guidelines of Nedelec et al.