Effects of an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery programme on emergency surgical patients

ANZ J Surg. 2016 Nov;86(11):883-888. doi: 10.1111/ans.13465. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Background: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) programmes have been used in elective surgery since the 1990s to optimize peri-operative care, reducing post-operative complications, length of stay and overall costs. Following the local introduction of an ERAS programme for colorectal elective patients, it was suggested an increase in the use of ERAS-type principles in emergency patients may have occurred. The aims of this study were to determine whether management changes could be demonstrated and if there was a difference in outcomes.

Method: A retrospective cohort study comparing emergency patients undergoing major abdominal surgery October 2008 to May 2010 (pre-ERAS) and January 2011 to December 2012 (post-ERAS) was performed. Details collected included admission and operative details, post-operative management and outcomes.

Results: A total of 370 patients were studied. Baseline variables were comparable. Post-ERAS, intra-operative (P < 0.001) and post-operative 48 h totals (P < 0.001) of intravenous fluids were significantly reduced. Significantly fewer patients in the post-ERAS group had a catheter (P < 0.001), drain (P = 0.001) and patient controlled analgesia (P = 0.01) for more than two days. Major complications (P = 0.002) and individual minor complications such as urinary tract infections (P = 0.02), urinary retention (P = 0.001) and chest infections (P = 0.001) were all significantly reduced in the post-ERAS period.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates a significant change in management towards ERAS principles in emergency patients following the introduction of such a programme in elective patients. The lack of increased complications in the second period suggests the use of ERAS principles is not harmful. The wider application of ERAS principles could improve outcomes in emergency surgery and deserves further study.

Keywords: balance; colorectal surgery; complications; diffusion; emergency; fluid; general surgery; perioperative care; post-operative.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Emergencies*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perioperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Recovery of Function*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Young Adult