Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) has led to a paradigm shift in perioperative care through multimodal interventions. Still, ERAS remains a relatively new concept in neurosurgery, and there is no summary of evidence on ERAS applications in cranial neurosurgery.
The authors systematically reviewed the literature using the PubMed/MEDLINE, Embase, Scopus, and Cochrane Library databases for ERAS protocols and elements. Studies had to assess at least one pre-, peri-, or postoperative ERAS element and evaluate at least one of the following outcomes: 1) length of hospital stay, 2) length of ICU stay, 3) postoperative pain, 4) direct and indirect healthcare cost, 5) complication rate, 6) readmission rate, or 7) patient satisfaction.
A final 27 articles were included in the qualitative analysis, with mixed quality of evidence ranging from high in 3 cases to very low in 1 case. Seventeen studies reported a complete ERAS protocol. Preoperative ERAS elements include patient selection through multidisciplinary team discussion, patient counseling and education to adjust expectations of the postoperative period, and mental state assessment; antimicrobial, steroidal, and antiepileptic prophylaxes; nutritional assessment, as well as preoperative oral carbohydrate loading; and postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) prophylaxis. Anesthesiology interventions included local anesthesia for pin sites, regional field block or scalp block, avoidance or minimization of the duration of invasive monitoring, and limitation of intraoperative mannitol. Other intraoperative elements include absorbable skin sutures and avoidance of wound drains. Postoperatively, the authors identified early extubation, observation in a step-down unit instead of routine ICU admission, early mobilization, early fluid de-escalation, early intake of solid food and liquids, early removal of invasive monitoring, professional nutritional assessment, PONV management, nonopioid rescue analgesia, and early postoperative imaging. Other postoperative interventions included discharge criteria standardization and home visits or progress monitoring by a nurse.
A wide range of evidence-based interventions are available to improve recovery after elective craniotomy, although there are few published ERAS protocols. Patient-centered optimization of neurosurgical care spanning the pre-, intra-, and postoperative periods is feasible and has already provided positive results in terms of improved outcomes such as postoperative pain, patient satisfaction, reduced length of stay, and cost reduction with an excellent safety profile. Although fast-track recovery protocols and ERAS studies are gaining momentum for elective craniotomy, prospective trials are needed to provide stronger evidence.