Association between early mobilisation after abdominal cancer surgery and postoperative complications

Eur J Surg Oncol. 2023 Sep;49(9):106943. doi: 10.1016/j.ejso.2023.05.018. Epub 2023 Jun 3.


Introduction: Postoperative complications and readmission to hospital after major cancer surgery are common. Early mobilisation in hospital is thought to reduce complications, and patients are recommended to mobilise for at least 2 h on the day of surgery, and thereafter at least 6 h per day. Evidence for early mobilisation is limited and therefore also how early mobilisation may influence the development of postoperative complications. The aim of this study was to evaluate the association between early mobilisation after abdominal cancer surgery and readmission to hospital due to postoperative complications.

Material and methods: Adult patients who had abdominal cancer surgery due to ovarian, colorectal, or urinary bladder cancer between January 2017 and May 2018 were included in the study. Exposure was set to the mean number of steps taken over the first three postoperative days, measured with an activity monitor. Primary outcome was readmission to hospital within 30 days after discharge, and secondary outcome was severity of complications. Data were obtained from medical records. Logistic regression was used to investigate the association between exposure and outcomes.

Results: Of 133 patients included in the study, 25 were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days after discharge. The analysis showed no association between early mobilisation and readmission or severity of complications.

Conclusion: Early mobilisation does not seem to increase the odds of readmission, nor the severity of complications. This study contributes to the limited research on the association between early mobilisation and postoperative complications after abdominal cancer surgery.

Keywords: Activity monitor; Colorectal cancer; Ovarian cancer; Readmission; Steps; Urinary bladder cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / surgery
  • Abdominal Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Adult
  • Early Ambulation*
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Patient Readmission
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors