Background/purpose: Fast-track surgery is not well established for infants and children. The aim of our prospective study was to investigate the feasibility of fast-track concepts for pediatric surgical procedures including laparoscopic techniques.
Methods: Fast-track concepts, including immediate postoperative feeding, immediate mobilization, and morphine sparing pain treatment, were established for pyeloplasty, appendectomy, bowel anastomosis, fundoplication, hypospadia repair, and full/partial nephrectomy. All consecutive patients undergoing these procedures were prospectively investigated from June 2004 to June 2005. Patients with additional relevant diseases, reoperation, and perforated appendicitis were excluded from fast-track treatment. The length of hospital stay was compared with data derived from the German reimbursement system with German diagnosis-related groups for patients with a similar case mix index and hospitals with a similar structure.
Results: Of a total of 159 patients (mean age, 5.8 +/- 5.3 years), 113 (71%) were finally treated according to the fast-track protocols. There were no complications associated with fast-track surgery. The intensity of pain during the immediate postoperative period was higher than 5 on a 10-point scale in children older than 4 years. Analgesia was excellent at all other time points. The mean hospital stay of fast-track patients was 2.3 +/- 1 days and was significantly shorter (P < .01) compared with German diagnosis-related group data for all procedures (pyeloplasty, 1.9 +/- 0.9 vs 12.2 +/- 0.2; nephrectomy, 1.9 +/- 1.0 vs 14.4 +/- 2.8; bowel anastomosis, 3.2 +/- 0.6 vs 12.9 +/- 2.4; fundoplication, 3.2 +/- 0.8 vs 15.2 +/- 4.2; appendectomy, 3.7 +/- 2.4 vs 6.3 +/- 1.8; hypospadia repair, 2.1 +/- 1 vs 8.4 +/- 1.4). Two readmissions were recorded. Ninety-six percent of patients and parents scored the fast-track concepts as excellent.
Conclusion: The feasibility of fast-track concepts in children is excellent, with short duration of hospitalization and high comfort.