The first postoperative fast-track protocols, also called “enhanced recovery after surgery” (ERAS), were instituted by colorectal surgeons almost three decades ago in order to modulate surgical stress and hasten recovery. Since then, the implementation of enhanced recovery programs has had an exponential expansion across most surgical specialties, including gynecology, urology, breast, vascular, and orthopedic surgery.
“Enhanced recovery after liver surgery” (ERLS) was first introduced in 2008 and has incrementally gained acceptance as being an integral part of perioperative care for hepatectomy patients. Several outcome metrics have shown to be improved with the adoption of a multimodal evidencebased strategy in liver surgery, many of which are also shared by other surgical specialties practicing in an enhanced recovery framework.
Improved clinical outcomes such as length of stay, morbidity rates, and hospital costs tend to support implementation of fast-track programs in general, but other metrics specific to liver surgery and to patients with colorectal liver metastases (CLM) further endorse this strategy when managing CLM. The implementation of an ERLS program represents a collaborative approach in which the different team players, including anesthesia, surgery, nutrition, pharmacy, nursing, and most importantly the patient and his/her family, engage actively in the perioperative pathway, in an evidence-based, patient-centered approach. The development of such programs also requires dedicated continuing education for the team members, flexibility in terms of perioperative management and decisionmaking by the health-care providers, support from the hospital administration, and systematic quality control measures to ensure implementation and accurate reporting. This review study the different core elements of ERLS and discuss different outcomes associated with this system-based approach, with an emphasis on oncological patients.
Interference with oncological treatment plans can negatively affect patients’ longterm outcomes but can also be detrimental to quality of life and overall functional status. Patient-reported outcomes (PROs) attempt to capture the patients’ perspective for a given intervention or treatment strategy, which are particularly important in oncological patients. Day et al. reported that the implementation of ERLS was beneficial for patients in terms of functional recovery, and although no significant differences were detected in terms of symptom burden, the impact of ERLS was shown to accelerate functional recovery by returning to baseline interference earlier. This positive effect from ERLS seems more pronounced in patients undergoing open hepatectomy over those already benefiting from minimally invasive surgery.
Over 50% to 60% of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer will develop hepatic metastases during their lifetime. Resection for hepatic metastases has been a routine part of treatment for colorectal cancer since the publication of a large single-center experience demonstrating its safety and efficacy.
Predictors of poor outcome in that study included node-positive primary, disease-free interval <12 months, more than one tumor, tumor size >5 cm, and carcinoembryonic antigen level >200 ng/mL.
Traditional teaching suggested that hepatic resection for metastatic colorectal cancer to the liver, if technically feasible,should be performed only for fewer than four metastases. However, later studies challenged this paradigm. In a series of 235 patients who underwent hepatic resection for metastatic colorectal cancer, the 10-year survival rate of patients with four or more nodules was 29%, nearly comparable to the 32% survival rate of patients with only a solitary tumor metastasis.
In the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center series of 98 patients with four or more colorectal hepatic metastases who underwent resection between 1998 and 2002, the 5-year actuarial survival was 33%. Furthermore, improved chemotherapeutic regimens and surgical techniques have produced aggressive strategies for the management of this disease.
Many groups now consider volume of future liver remnant and the health of the background liver, and not actual tumor number, as the primary determinants in selection for an operative approach. Hence, resectability is no longer defined by what is actually removed, but indications for hepatic resection now center on what will remain after resection.
Use of neoadjuvant chemotherapy, portal vein embolization, twostage hepatectomy, simultaneous ablation, and resection of extrahepatic tumor in select patients have increased the number of patients eligible for a surgical approach.