A multimodal prehabilitation program in high-risk patients undergoing elective resection for colorectal cancer: A retrospective cohort study

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2021 May 29;S0748-7983(21)00528-X. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2021.05.033. Online ahead of print.


Aim: Up to 50% of the patients experience complications after colorectal cancer (CRC) surgery. Improved preoperative physical and nutritional status can enhance clinical outcomes and reduce postoperative complications. This retrospective, single-center, observational cohort study assessed the impact of a four-week multimodal prehabilitation program on postoperative complications, unplanned readmissions, length of stay, and mortality in elective high-risk CRC patients.

Method: Elective high-risk CRC patients, defined as ASA ≥3 or ≥65yr, who attended the multimodal prehabilitation program (prehabilitation-group) were compared to a historical cohort receiving standard care (control-group). Differences in outcomes between these groups were tested using Fisher's Exact and Mann-Whitney U test. To adjust for confounding, multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed. The main study outcome was the occurrence of postoperative complications. Secondary outcomes included unplanned readmissions, length of hospital stay, and mortality.

Results: 351 patients were included (n = 275 control-group, n = 76 prehabilitation-group). The complication rate was lower in the prehabilitation group compared to the control group, 26.3% (n = 20) versus 40% (n = 110) (p = .032). There were fewer unplanned readmissions in the prehabilitation group compared to the control group, 5.3% (n = 4) versus 16.4% (n = 45), p = .014. Median hospital days of stay was 1 day shorter for the prehabilitation-group (p = .004), mortality did not significantly differ between the groups.

Conclusion: This study shows that the used multimodal prehabilitation program leads to a reduction of medical postoperative complications, unplanned readmissions, and shortens the median hospital stay compared with standard care in high-risk CRC patients undergoing elective CRC surgery.

Keywords: Colorectal neoplasm [MeSH]; Nutrition; Postoperative complications [MeSH]; Prehabilitation.