Current Status of Fast-Track Recovery Pathways in Pancreatic Surgery

Context Pancreatic surgery is often associated with significant morbidity, thus requiring high level of peri-operative care and long hospital stay. Multi-modal “enhanced recovery” or “fast-track” pathways have recently been introduced, aiming to expedite patient recovery. Objective To evaluate the evidence underpinning the use of fast-track pathways in the peri-operative care of patients undergoing pancreatic cancer surgery. Results The available evidence is limited, consisting of three retrospective studies that report median length of hospital stay between 7 and 13 days. No significant difference has been noted in re-admission or 30-day mortality rates between fast-track patients and historical controls, but there is a trend for higher overall complication rate for the fast-track groups. Conclusion Implementation of an enhanced recovery pathway is feasible and can achieve shorter hospital stay and reduced costs, with no increase in re-admission or peri-operative mortality rates. There is, however, conflicting evidence on the physiological mechanisms that contribute to accelerated patient recovery. Certain safety issues associated with post-operative morbidity warrant rigorous evaluation in further prospective studies.


Efthymios Ypsilantis, Raaj K Praseedom

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