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Enhanced Recovery Beneficial After Colorectal Surgery

April 25, 2014
Julie Thacker, MD, left, and surgical resident Paul Speicher perform surgery at Duke University Hospital.

Julie Thacker, MD, left, and surgical resident Paul Speicher perform surgery at Duke University Hospital.

A hospital practice called enhanced recovery cuts hospital stays and readmission rates following colorectal surgery, according to Duke research.

Enhanced recovery does away with the fasting and laxative treatments required the night before surgery. After surgery, enhanced recovery encourages people to eat and move as soon as possible.

Traditionally, people aren't given food or drink for up to several days post-surgery to give the bowel time to heal. Various methods to reduce pain are also prescribed, depending on the surgeon’s preference. Enhanced recovery follows a standardized pain management approach.

The Duke research shows enhanced recovery cut hospital stays from an average of seven days to five, and reduced readmission rates by half. The researchers are hoping enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) will become part of standardized care for colorectal surgery procedures across the country.

“Our study demonstrates that the patient-focused enhanced recovery approach uses evidence-based concepts to decrease perioperative stress and improve outcomes from surgery,” said colorectal surgeon and co-author, Julie Thacker, MD.

Duke runs one of the most developed ERAS programs in the world, and applies ERAS principles to all elective colon cancer surgeries that remove abnormal tissue. Preliminary data show its positive impact on people who undergo colorectal surgery. 

Duke's Enhanced Recovery Research in the News

Read more about Duke’s enhanced recovery research. 

This Wall Street Journal article provides more information on the patient benefits of enhanced recovery.

Learn More About Treating Colorectal Disease at Duke

Colon and Rectal Disease