Background: Enhanced recovery after surgery programs in colorectal surgery aim to attenuate the surgical stress response, reduce complications and shorten hospital stay.
Objective: This study aimed to assess the safety and efficacy of enhanced recovery after surgery programs in colorectal surgery in comparison with traditional care.
Data sources: PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane databases were electronically searched (date range, January 1966 to July 2012).
Study selection: Randomized controlled trials were selected that compared enhanced recovery after surgery programs with traditional care in elective colorectal surgery.
Intervention: Articles were reviewed independently by 2 reviewers, who extracted the data and assessed the quality of the included studies. The outcome measures were analyzed, and the quality of evidence for each outcome was assessed by using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation system.
Main outcome measures: The primary outcome measures were primary and total postoperative hospital stay, readmission rates, total postoperative complications (including general and surgical complications), and mortality.
Results: Thirteen studies (total, 1910 patients) were included in the meta-analysis. In comparison with traditional care, enhanced recovery after surgery programs were associated with significantly decreased primary hospital stay (weighted mean difference, -2.44 days; 95% CI, -3.06 to -1.83 days; p < 0.00001), total hospital stay (weighted mean difference, -2.39 days; 95% CI, -3.70 to -1.09 days; p = 0.0003), total complications (relative risk, 0.71; 95% CI, 0.58-0.86; p = 0.0006), and general complications (relative risk, 0.68; 95% CI, 0.56-0.82; p < 0.0001). No significant differences were found for readmission rates, surgical complications, and mortality.
Limitations: This study was limited by the risk of bias in most included studies.
Conclusions: Enhanced recovery after surgery programs are safe and effective, and increased implementation is justified for perioperative care in colorectal surgery. Future studies may examine the benefits of enhanced recovery after surgery programs in elderly patients and in other GI surgery.