Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) in penetrating abdominal trauma: A prospective single-center pilot study

  • M.R. Moydien
  • R Oodit
  • S Chowdhury
  • S Edu
  • A.J. Nicol
  • P.H. Navsaria


Background: Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) programmes employed in elective surgery have provided strong evidence for decreased lengths of hospital stay without increase in postoperative complications. The aim of this study was to explore the role and benefits of ERAS implemented in patients undergoing emergency laparotomy for penetrating abdominal trauma.

Methods: Institutional University of Cape Town Human Research Ethics Committee (UCT-HREC) approved study. A prospective cohort of 38 consecutive patients with isolated penetrating abdominal trauma undergoing emergency laparotomy were included in the study. The enhanced recovery protocols (ERPs) included: early urinary catheter removal, early nasogastric tube (NGT) removal, early feeding, early mobilisation/physiotherapy, early intravenous line removal and early optimal oral analgesia. This group was compared to a historical control group of 40 consecutive patients undergoing emergency laparotomy for penetrating abdominal trauma, prior to the introduction of the ERP. Demographics, mechanism of injury, injury severity scores (ISS) and penetrating abdominal trauma index (PATI) were determined for both groups. The primary end-points were length of hospital stay (LOS) and incidence of postoperative complications (Clavien-Dindo classification) in the 2 groups. The difference in means was tested using the t-test assuming unequal variances. Statistical significance was defined as p-value less than 0.05 (p < 0.05).

Results: The two groups were comparable with regards to age, gender, mechanism of injury, ISS and PATI scores. The mean time to solid diet, urinary catheter and nasogastric tube (NGT) removal was 3.6 (non-ERAS) and 2.8 (ERAS) days [p < 0.035], 3.3 (non-ERAS) and 1.9 (ERAS) days [p < 0.00003], 2.1 (non-ERAS) and 1.2 (ERAS) days [p < 0.0042], respectively. There was no difference in time from admission to time of laparotomy 313 (non-ERAS) vs 358 (ERAS) minutes [p < 0.07]. There were 11 and 12 complications in the non-ERAS and ERAS groups, respectively. When graded as per the Clavien-Dindo classification, there was no significant difference in the 2 groups (p < 0.59). Hospital stay was significantly shorter in the ERAS group: 5.5 (SD 1.8) days vs. 8.4 (SD 4.2) days [p < 0.00021].

Conclusion: This pilot study shows that ERPs can be successfully implemented with significant shorter hospital stays without any increase in postoperative complications in trauma patients undergoing emergency laparotomy for penetrating abdominal trauma.