A Comparison of Multimodal Analgesic Approaches in Institutional Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Protocols for Colorectal Surgery: Pharmacological Agents

J Laparoendosc Adv Surg Tech A. 2017 Sep;27(9):903-908. doi: 10.1089/lap.2017.0338. Epub 2017 Jul 25.


Introduction: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS®) protocols are the cornerstone of improved recovery after colorectal surgery. Their implementation leads to reduced morbidity and shorter hospital stays while attenuating the surgical stress response. Multimodal analgesia is an important part of ERAS protocols. We compared and contrasted protocols from 15 institutions to test our hypothesis that there is a fundamental consensus among them.

Materials and methods: ERAS protocols for open and laparoscopic colorectal surgery were compared from 15 different healthcare facilities. We examined each institution's approach to multimodal analgesia related to the use of oral and intravenous analgesics. Preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative management was examined.

Results: All but three protocols used preoperative multimodal analgesics, with acetaminophen, celecoxib, and gabapentin being the most common. Intraoperative recommendations included the use of ketamine, lidocaine, magnesium, and ketorolac. Some protocols advocated for the use of opiates, while others aimed to minimize total opioid dose. In the postoperative period, the three most utilized agents were acetaminophen, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opioids.

Conclusions: There were many similarities and some significant differences among ERAS protocols examined. Acetaminophen was the most widely used nonopioid agent and along with NSAIDs offers a benefit with respect to postoperative analgesia, opioid-sparing effects, earlier ambulation, and reduction in postoperative ileus. Gabapentin was widely used as it may reduce opioid consumption within the first 24 hours postoperatively. Lidocaine infusion was recommended if there were contraindications to or failure of epidural anesthesia. Ketamine is frequently recommended due to its analgesic, antihyperalgesic, antiallodynic, and antitolerance properties. Differences in approaches may be due to both institutional- and provider-level factors.

Keywords: ERAS; analgesia; enhanced recovery after surgery; multimodal; opioids; protocol.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Protocols
  • Colon / surgery*
  • Consensus
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Humans
  • New Zealand
  • Pain, Postoperative / drug therapy*
  • Pain, Postoperative / prevention & control*
  • Perioperative Care / methods*
  • Perioperative Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rectum / surgery*
  • United States


  • Analgesics