Accelerated Recovery Within Standardized Recovery Pathways After Esophagectomy: A Prospective Cohort Study Assessing the Effects of Early Discharge on Outcomes, Readmissions, Patient Satisfaction, and Costs

Ann Thorac Surg. 2016 Sep;102(3):931-939. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2016.04.005. Epub 2016 Jun 7.


Background: After esophagectomy, some patients exceed targeted discharge goal within enhanced recovery after surgery programs. This study reviews the demographics, outcomes, cost, readmission rates, and patient satisfaction for the accelerated recovery (AR) group.

Methods: Between 2010 and 2013, 137 consecutive esophagectomy patients were compared according to the length of hospital stay: AR 5 to 6 days, targeted recovery (TR) 7 to 8 days, and delayed recovery (DR) 9 days or more.

Results: The AR patients increased from 3% to 46% during the study period. The AR patients were younger, but all groups were comparable regarding comorbidities (Charlson, American Society of Anesthesiologists, and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group score), cancer stage, and treatment approach. The AR patients were more likely to have neoadjuvant therapy, shorter operations, and less blood loss. The DR patients were more likely to have complications (40% AR versus 45% TR versus 90% DR, p < 0.001). Inhospital and 90-day mortality was 1.5%. All AR patients were discharged home (100% AR versus 87% TR versus 63% DR, p < 0.001), and 30-day readmission rates were comparable between groups (14% AR versus 19% TR versus 5% DR, p = 0.122). Overall mean costs ($38,385 AR versus $41,607 TR versus $61,199 DR, p < 0.001) as well as readmission costs ($7,470 AR versus $27,695 TR versus $33,398 DR, p = 0.202) were lower in the AR group. Patient satisfaction scores were comparable between groups.

Conclusions: Accelerated recovery is achievable in a significant proportion of patients undergoing esophagectomy. Accelerated recovery is associated with decreased treatment costs but does not lead to increased readmissions or decreased patient satisfaction. Enhanced recovery after surgery programs should be designed to accommodate patients appropriate for AR.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Esophagectomy* / economics
  • Female
  • Health Care Costs*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Discharge*
  • Patient Readmission
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Time Factors