Assessing the Value of Prehabilitation in Patients Undergoing Colorectal Surgery According to the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) Pathway for the Improvement of Postoperative Outcomes: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

JMIR Res Protoc. 2017 Oct 27;6(10):e199. doi: 10.2196/resprot.7972.


Background: A key element in the postoperative phase of the standardized Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) treatment pathways is mobilization. Currently, there are no recommendations in the ERAS guidelines for preoperative physical activity. Patients undergoing major surgery are prone to functional decline due to the impairment of muscle, cardiorespiratory, and neurological function as a response to surgical stress. It has been shown that preoperative physical training reduces postoperative complications. To date, there are limited studies that investigate preoperative physical training combined with ERAS.

Objective: The aim of this study is to assess the impact of tailored physical training prior to colorectal surgery conducted according to an ERAS protocol on overall morbidity. This study proposes the initial hypothesis that 3-6 weeks of prehabilitation before elective colorectal surgery may improve postoperative outcome and reduce complication rates, assessed using the Comprehensive Complication Index. The primary objective is to evaluate overall morbidity due to postoperative complications. Additionally, complications are assessed according to the Clavien-Dindo classification, length of stay, readmission rate, mortality rate, and treatment-related costs.

Methods: The prehabilitation Enhanced Recovery After colorectal Surgery (pERACS) study is a single-center, single-blinded prospective randomized controlled trial. Patients scheduled for colorectal resections are randomly assigned either to the prehabilitation group or the control group. All patients are treated with the ERAS pathway for colorectal resections according to a standardized study schedule. Sample size calculation performed by estimating a clinically relevant 25% reduction of postoperative complications (alpha=.05, power 80%, dropout rate of 10%) resulted in 56 randomized patients per group.

Results: Following ethical approval of the study protocol, the first patient was included in June 2016. At this time, a total of 40 patients have been included; 27 patients terminated the study by the end of March 2017. Results are expected to be published in 2018.

Conclusions: The pERACS trial is a single-center, single-blinded prospective randomized controlled trial to assess the impact of tailored physical training prior to colorectal surgery, conducted according to an ERAS protocol, in order to evaluate overall morbidity.

Trial registration: NCT02746731; (Archived by WebCite at

Keywords: ERAS; enhanced recovery after surgery; prehabilitation.

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