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A Faster, Easier Recovery from Surgery

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery

Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) has been shown to reduce care time by more than 30% and reduce postoperative complications by up to 50%*.

If you’ve ever had surgery, you may remember your doctor’s dreaded instructions—nothing to eat or drink after midnight the day of your surgery. Now, that’s all changed—for patients having colorectal surgery at Virginia Hospital Center, thanks to ERAS®.

ERAS stands for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery. It represents a shift in care involving all aspects of the patient’s journey through the surgical process, from preoperative care through recovery. Now, the patient is allowed to have liquids up to three hours prior to surgery, and can eat immediately after bowel surgery.

Shafik Sidani, MD, FACS of Virginia Hospital Center Physician Group–Colorectal Surgery provides this insight, “Rather than starve the patient before they run the marathon of surgery, we’re giving them the energy to help them through it. What we’ve found is that surgery is easier to endure, and the body is able to recover better afterwards.”

Today’s colorectal surgery is an entirely different experience from the past when it involved a large incision, a prolonged need for pain medication, a weeklong hospital stay and a six-week recovery. Now, colorectal surgery is performed through very small incisions, either laparoscopically or robotically. Before, during, and after surgery, the patient is given specific medications and anesthetic to block pain receptors and minimize pain after surgery. As a result, the patient is up and walking around the day of surgery, as well as eating regular food. There is minimal pain and little need for pain medication. Typically, the patient is able to go home the second or third day after surgery, feeling great, and back at work within 2-4 weeks—all this after major abdominal surgery.

Ted T’s experience having surgery to remove a mass in his colon went very smoothly. “I ate a light dinner the night before surgery and had the carbohydrate drink as prescribed,” he says. “My incision is only two small dots and a 2” line. I didn’t have to take any painkillers in the Hospital or at home. I was up the day of surgery and walked the corridor. By the time I was back at work, I felt exactly like I had before I had the surgery.”

“I had excellent care,” recalls Ted T, 79. “Dr. Sidani answered every question I asked and more. He was very reassuring and told me exactly what to expect.”

Dr. Sidani adds, “We’ve been doing ERAS for over a year very successfully. Our colleagues at Mayo Clinic also have implemented an ERAS protocol, and we have consulted with them to align our clinical pathway with theirs. ERAS represents a newer—and better—way of thinking about how to prepare our patients for surgery. Looking ahead, we plan to expand ERAS to other types of surgery.”

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