Current practice patterns for postoperative activity restrictions in children

Lauren M. Baumann, Kibileri Williams, Hassan Ghomrawi, Fizan Abdullah*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Postoperative activity restrictions are designed to prevent undue stress on a recent repair and minimize the risk of surgical complication, however, there is little evidence to support certain restrictions in clinical practice. For the pediatric population, there is a paucity of formal evaluations of postoperative activity restrictions, and little is known about current practice patterns among pediatric surgeons. This study aimed to describe national practice patterns of pediatric surgeons for postoperative activity recommendations following three common general surgical procedures. Methods: A 7-item survey was sent to all American Pediatric Surgical Association (APSA) members regarding surgeon practice of recommended activity restrictions for school attendance, participation in playground or gym, participation in contact sports, and heavy lifting in children following 3 procedures: exploratory laparotomy, laparoscopic appendectomy, and inguinal hernia repair. Information on type and duration of clinical practice was also collected for each surgeon. Descriptive and bivariate analyses were performed. Results: The survey was completed by 293 pediatric surgeons for a response rate of 28.9%. There was wide national variability in the recommended activity restrictions for children < 12 years old among pediatric surgeons. Following laparoscopic appendectomy, 30.7%, 51.9% and 47.8% of surgeons recommends restriction of gym, contact sports, and heavy lifting for 2–3 weeks respectively, but 26.7%, 19.8%, and 22.2% do not recommend any restriction whatsoever of these three activities. Following inguinal hernia repair, 31.7%, 49.1% and 44.4% of surgeons recommend restriction of gym, contact sports, and heavy lifting for 2–3 weeks, but 30.8%, 30.8%, and 29.2% do not recommend any restriction of these three activities. Only 22% of surgeons change their activity restriction recommendations for children ≥ 12 years old, this decision was not associated with surgeon years in practice or type of practice. Conclusions: There is considerable variability in surgeon recommendations for activity restrictions following three general surgery procedures in children. While activity restrictions are rooted in the physiology of wound healing, there is little evidence to support the benefit of these restrictions in clinical practice. In addition, activity restriction may have unintended deleterious effects on a child's psychosocial well-being and quality of life. Further investigation should be pursued to understand the utility of activity restrictions in children and their impact on clinical outcomes and patient quality of life. Type of Study: Treatment study. Level of Evidence: Level V, expert opinion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1432-1435
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of pediatric surgery
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Activity restrictions
  • Physical activity
  • Recovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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