Purpose: The aim of this multi-institutional study was to prospectively evaluate the safety and efficacy of an enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocol for colonic surgery. Methods: The subjects of this study were 320 patients with an American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) grade I or II physical status. Patients underwent elective open or laparoscopic colonic resection or high anterior resection between April 2011 and January 2014 at one of six institutions. Three hospitals implemented an ERAS protocol (n = 159), and three administered conventional care (n = 161). The primary outcome measure was the surgical complication rate. Results: Most operations, irrespective of group, were performed laparoscopically. The incidence of a surgical complication was 17.0 % in the ERAS group vs. 16.1 % in the conventional group (P = 0.842), in which several non-surgical complications also arose. Oral food intake was implemented earlier for the ERAS group vs. the conventional group, after a median (range) of 1 (1–31) vs. 3 (1–9) days for the ERAS vs. conventional care groups, respectively (P < 0.001). The median length of postoperative hospital stay was reduced by 5.5 days for the ERAS group, being 8.5 (5–41) vs. 14 (7–56) days for the ERAS vs. conventional care groups, respectively (P < 0.001). Conclusion: This multi-institutional controlled study clearly demonstrated that an ERAS protocol was efficient, without increasing the complication risk.
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