The Effect of Offloading Heels on Sacral Pressure

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Abstract

Offloading a patient’s heels during supine surgical procedures is a common practice to prevent heel pressure injuries. This practice may increase sacral pressure and jeopardize sacral skin integrity, but prophylactic dressings may help protect sacral skin. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of offloading the heels and of multilayered silicone foam dressings on sacral pressure. We measured the sacral pressure of 50 healthy volunteers using a pressure-mapping system under four conditions: heels not offloaded and sacral dressing applied, heels offloaded and dressing applied, heels not offloaded and no dressing, and heels offloaded and no dressing. We used linear mixed-effects modeling to compare the effects of these conditions on sacral pressure. Offloading the heels significantly increased sacral pressure (P < .001), whereas the dressing had no effect on sacral pressure (P = .49). Offloading a patient’s heels may increase the risk of sacral pressure injuries.

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