Improving Outcomes in Oncological Colorectal Surgery by Prehabilitation

Am J Phys Med Rehabil. 2019 Mar;98(3):231-238. doi: 10.1097/PHM.0000000000001025.


Introduction: The cornerstone in the treatment of colorectal cancer is surgery. A surgical event poses a significant risk of decreased functional decline and impaired health-related quality of life. Prehabilitation is defined as the multimodal preoperative enhancement of a patient's condition. It may serve as a strategy to improve postoperative outcomes. Prehabilitation requires a multidisciplinary effort of medical health care professionals and a behavioral change of the patient.

Methods: The goal of prehabilitation is threefold: (1) to reduce postoperative complications, (2) to enhance and accelerate the recovery of the patient, and (3) to improve overall quality of life. In this article, we introduce the FIT model illustrating a possible framework toward the implementation of both evidence-based and tailor-made prehabilitation for patients undergoing surgery for colorectal cancer.

Results: The model is composed of three pillars: "facts" (how to screen patients and evidence on what content to prescribe), "integration" (data of own questionnaires assessing motivation of patients and specialists), and finally "tools" (which outcome measurements to use).

Discussion: Developing implementable methods and defining standardized outcome instruments will help establish a solid base for patient-centered prehabilitation programs. Any party introducing prehabilitation requiring multidisciplinary teamwork and behavioral change can potentially use this framework.

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / surgery
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / surgery
  • Colorectal Surgery / adverse effects*
  • Colorectal Surgery / methods
  • Humans
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Postoperative Complications / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Preoperative Care / methods*
  • Quality of Life