Background: Surgeons use the absence of post-operative complications to define recovery while patients define recovery as return to normal function. We aimed to better define the recovery process after minimally invasive surgery (MIS) and open gastrointestinal surgery.
Methods: Patients scheduled for open or MIS pancreaticoduodenectomy, esophagectomy, colectomy, and proctectomy were prospectively enrolled. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) were collected using validated PROMIS and LASA scales pre-operatively, on post-operative days 2, 7, 14, 30, and monthly until 6 months. Patients were also asked if they felt fully recovered. Descriptive statistics and area under the curve (AUC) were used to compare approaches. Multivariable mixed-effects repeated measures models and logistic regression were used to control for covariates.
Results: 340 patients met inclusion criteria (158 open and 182 MIS). Median age was 60 years with 44% women. The PRO showed improved post-operative QOL scores in MIS compared to open on all measures by AUC. None of these difference persisted at 6-months. After adjusting for covariates, MIS had higher overall QOL scores at day 14 (Estimate + 0.58, p = 0.02) and 30 (+ 0.56, p = 0.03). Differences did not persist at 3 and 6 months (both p > 0.05). At 1, 3, and 6 months, 20%, 47%, and 61% of patients reported feeling completely recovered. On adjusted analysis there was no difference in odds of complete recovery in MIS at 1 (OR 1.07 [95% CI 0.53-2.14] and 3 months (1.12 [0.63-2.01]) compared to open. MIS patients were more likely to report complete recovery at 6 months (1.87 [1.05-3.33]).
Conclusion: MIS patients reported improved PRO on selected QOL measures early in the recovery period compared to open. There was no difference in long-term QOL data between MIS and open patients. Two-thirds (61%) of patients reported being fully recovered at 6 months with MIS patients being more likely to report a complete recovery.
Keywords: Colectomy; Minimally invasive; PROMIS; Patient-reported outcomes; Quality of life; Whipple.