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Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) Programs for Patients Having Colorectal Surgery: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials

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Enhanced recovery after surgery programs have been introduced with aims of improving patient care, reducing complication rates, and shortening hospital stay following colorectal surgery. The aim of this meta-analysis was to determine whether enhanced recovery after surgery programs, when compared to traditional perioperative care, are associated with reduced primary hospital length of stay in adult patients undergoing elective colorectal surgery.


MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Registry of Controlled Trials, and the reference lists were searched for relevant articles. Only randomized controlled trials comparing an enhanced recovery program with traditional postoperative care were included.


Three of four included studies showed significantly shorter primary lengths of stay for patients enrolled in enhanced recovery programs. There was no significant difference in postoperative mortality when the two groups were compared [relative risk (RR) = 0.53; 95% CI = 0.12–2.38; test for heterogeneity, p = 0.40 and I 2 = 0], and patients in enhanced recovery programs were less likely to develop postoperative complications (RR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.42–0.88; test for heterogeneity, p = 0.95 and I 2 = 0).

Authors’ Conclusions

There is some evidence to suggest that enhanced recovery after surgery programs are better than traditional perioperative care, but evidence from a larger, better quality randomized controlled trial is necessary.

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The authors would like to thank Dr. Prakesh Shah, Department of Pediatrics, University of Toronto, for his input during the conduct of the systematic review and preparation of the manuscript and Dr. Joseph Beyene, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto and Population Health Sciences Research Institute, Hospital for Sick Children for his input during the statistical analysis.

Author information

Correspondence to Robin S. McLeod.

Additional information

No funding was sought for the conduct of this study; it is not based on a previous communication to a society or meeting.

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Eskicioglu, C., Forbes, S.S., Aarts, M. et al. Enhanced Recovery after Surgery (ERAS) Programs for Patients Having Colorectal Surgery: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Trials. J Gastrointest Surg 13, 2321 (2009).

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  • Enhanced recovery after surgery
  • Colorectal surgery
  • Meta-analysis
  • Postoperative complications