, Volume 28, Issue 7, pp 1019-1026
Date: 01 Feb 2013

The effect of a clinical pathway for enhanced recovery of rectal resections on perioperative quality of care

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There is ample evidence of the benefits of clinical pathways (CPs), but this study is the first to investigate the potential additional benefits of a CP for rectal resections in a setting with an already established policy of enhanced postoperative recovery.


We compared 36 patients who underwent rectal resections with ileostomy placement and were treated according to a CP (CP group) with 67 patients treated before CP implementation (prepathway group). Indicators of process quality were placement of central venous line and epidural catheter, day of removal of Foley catheter in relation to removal of the epidural catheter, day of first mobilization, day of resumption of regular diet, day of first passage of stool through the stoma, and length of stay. Outcome quality was assessed by morbidity, mortality, reoperation, and readmission rates.


We found that patients in the CP group resumed regular diet significantly sooner (p = 0.001). There were no significant differences regarding the day of first mobilization (p = 0.69), epidural catheter (p = 0.74), central venous line placement (p = 0.92), and removal of Foley catheter (p = 0.23). The first stool was passed through the stoma earlier (p = 0.04) in the prepathway group. Median length of hospital stay was significantly shorter in the CP group (12.5 vs. 15.0 days; p = 0.008). There were no significant changes in outcome quality, except for a significantly higher need for revisional surgery in the CP group (13.9 vs. 3 %, p = 0.05).


After implementation of a CP for rectal resections, one parameter of process quality improved and length of stay decreased.