Enhanced recovery pathways for ambulatory surgery

Curr Opin Anaesthesiol. 2020 Dec;33(6):711-717. doi: 10.1097/ACO.0000000000000923.


Purpose of review: Implementation of enhanced recovery pathways have allowed migration of complex surgical procedures from inpatient setting to the outpatient setting. These programs improve patient safety and patient-reported outcomes. The present article discusses the principles of enhanced recovery pathways in adults undergoing ambulatory surgery with an aim of improving patient safety and postoperative outcomes.

Recent findings: Procedure and patient selection is one of the key elements that influences perioperative outcomes after ambulatory surgery. Other elements include optimization of comorbid conditions, patient and family education, minimal preoperative fasting and adequate hydration during the fasting period, use of fast-track anesthesia technique, lung-protective mechanical ventilation, maintenance of fluid balance, and multimodal pain, nausea, and vomiting prophylaxis.

Summary: Implementation of enhanced recovery pathways requires a multidisciplinary approach in which the anesthesiologist should take a lead in collaborating with surgeons and perioperative nurses. Measuring compliance with enhanced recovery pathways through an audit program is essential to evaluate success and need for protocol modification. The metrics to assess the impact of enhanced recovery pathways include complication rates, patient reported outcomes, duration of postoperative stay in the surgical facility, unplanned hospital admission rate, and 7-day and 30-day readmission rates.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Ambulatory Surgical Procedures / methods*
  • Anesthesia* / adverse effects
  • Critical Pathways* / standards
  • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Selection
  • Postoperative Care
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Recovery of Function