Implementing a fast-track protocol for patients undergoing bowel resection: Not so fast

Department of Surgery-Fletcher 465, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington, VT 05401, USA.
American journal of surgery (Impact Factor: 2.29). 06/2013; 206(2). DOI: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2012.11.019
Source: PubMed


Multimodality fast-track protocols have been shown to enhance recovery after bowel resection. However, it remains unclear which of the components impact outcomes and whether processes actually occur as intended.

Consecutive patients who underwent elective bowel resection at a university teaching hospital under a standardized fast-track recovery protocol were compared with patients who underwent similar procedures before protocol initiation. Compliance was measured with the 7 major elements of the protocol: administration of nonopioid analgesia, perioperative lidocaine, nasogastric tube removal, early feeding, early ambulation, and fluid restriction.

Eighty pathway patients were compared with 87 conventional patients. Only 3 of the 7 major components were successfully implemented. Fluid restriction was achieved in only 2 patients. Pain scores and ileus-related morbidities were comparable with the exception of nasogastric tube reinsertion, which was required twice as often in pathway patients (17 vs 8, P = .02). Thirteen pathway patients were readmitted compared with 7 control patients (P = .11).

The delivery of expected care cannot be assumed. There was no discernible benefit in patient outcomes.

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