Background: Frail older surgical patients face more than a two-fold increase in postoperative complications, including myocardial infarction, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, pneumonia, ileus, and others. Many of these complications occur because of postoperative loss of stamina and poor mobility. Preoperative exercise may better prepare these vulnerable patients for surgery. We present the protocol for our ongoing randomized trial to assess the impact of a preoperative walking intervention with remote coaching and pedometer on outcomes of stamina (six-minute walk distance- 6MWD) and mobility (postoperative steps) in older adults with frailty traits.
Methods: We will be conducting a randomized clinical trial with a total of 120 patients permitting up to a 33% rate of attrition, to reach a final sample size of 80 (with 40 patients for each study arm). We will include patients who are age 60 or higher, score 4 or greater on the Edmonton Frailty Scale assessment, and will be undergoing a surgical operation that requires a 2 or more night hospital stay to be eligible for our trial. Using block randomization stratified on baseline 6MWD, we will assign patients to wear a pedometer. At the end of three baseline days, an athletic trainer (AT) will provide a daily step count goal reflecting a 10-20% increase from baseline. Subsequently, the AT will call weekly to further titrate the goal or calls more frequently if the patient is not meeting the prescribed goal. Controls will receive general walking advice. Our main outcome is change in 6MWD on postoperative day (POD) 2/3 vs. baseline. We will also collect 6MWD approximately 4 weeks after surgery and daily in-hospital steps.
Conclusion: If changes in a 6MWD and step counts are significantly higher for the intervention group, we believe this will confirm our hypothesis that the intervention leads to decreased loss of stamina and mobility. Once confirmed, we anticipate expanding to multiple centers to assess the interventional impact on clinical endpoints.
Trial registration: The randomized clinical trial was registered on clinicaltrials.gov under the identifier NCT03892187 on March 27, 2019.
Keywords: Frailty; Prehabilitation; Stamina; Surgery.