Objective: Investigation of the feasibility and preliminary effect of a short-term intensive preoperative exercise programme for elderly patients scheduled for elective abdominal oncological surgery.
Design: Single-blind randomized controlled pilot study.
Setting: Ordinary hospital in the Netherlands.
Subjects: Forty-two elderly patients (>60 years).
Interventions: Patients were randomly assigned to receive a short-term intensive therapeutic exercise programme to improve muscle strength, aerobic capacity, and functional activities, given in the outpatient department (intervention group; n =22), or home-based exercise advice (control group; n=20).
Main measures: Parameters of feasibility, preoperative functional capacity and postoperative course.
Results: The intensive training programme was feasible, with a high compliance and no adverse events. Respiratory muscle endurance increased in the preoperative period from 259 +/- 273 to 404 +/- 349 J in the intervention group and differed significantly from that in the control group (350 +/- 299 to 305 +/- 323 J; P<0.01). Timed-Up-and-Go, chair rise time, LASA Physical Activity Questionnaire, Physical Work Capacity and Quality of Life (EORTC-C30) did not reveal significant differences between the two groups. There was no significant difference in postoperative complications and length of hospital stay between the two groups.
Conclusion: The intensive therapeutic exercise programme was feasible and improved the respiratory function of patients due to undergo elective abdominal surgery compared with home-based exercise advice.