Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) is a multidimensional approach to improving the care of surgical patients using subspecialty- and procedure-specific evidence-based protocols. The literature provides evidence of the benefits of ERAS implementation, which include expedited functional recovery, decreased postoperative morbidity, reduced costs, and improved subjective patient experience. Although extensively examined in other surgical areas, ERAS principles have been applied to spine surgery only in recent years. The authors examine studies investigating the application of ERAS programs to patients undergoing spine surgery.
The authors conducted a systematic review of the PubMed and MEDLINE databases up to November 20, 2018.
Twenty full-text articles were included in the qualitative analysis. The majority of studies were retrospective reviews of nonrandomized data sets or qualitative investigations lacking formal control groups; there was 1 protocol for a future randomized controlled trial. Most studies demonstrated reduced lengths of stay and no increase in rates of readmissions or complications after introduction of an ERAS pathway.
These introductory studies demonstrate the potential of ERAS protocols, when applied to spine procedures, to reduce lengths of stay, accelerate return of function, minimize postoperative pain, and save costs.