Enhanced Recovery After Surgery and Acute Postoperative Pain Management

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Enhanced recovery pathways were first developed in colorectal surgery and have since been adapted to other surgical subspecialties including gynecologic surgery. Mounting evidence has shown that the adoption of a standardized perioperative pathway based on evidence-based literature reduces length of hospital stay, reduces cost, reduces opioid requirements with stable to improved pain scores, and accelerates return to normal function as measured by validated patient reported outcomes measurements. The many elements of enhanced recovery may be distilled into 3 concepts: (1) optimizing nutrition before and after surgery, recognizing that nutritional status directly impacts healing; (2) opioid-sparing analgesia, considering the current American prescription opioid crisis and the importance of pain control to regaining functional recovery; and (3) maintenance of euvolemia before, during, and after surgery. Evidence supporting enhanced recovery is presented with reference to international guidelines which were formed based on systematic reviews. Change management and the use of auditing are discussed to assure that patients derive the greatest improvement in surgical outcomes from implementation of an enhanced recovery pathway.

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