Document Type: Review Article


1 Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust - Emergency Surgery

2 Complejo Hospitalario de Jaén - General and Digestive Surgery Department

3 Rigshospitalet, Region Hovedstaden - General Surgery Department

4 Policlinico San Pietro - General and Minimally invasive Surgery Department.


Objective: To evaluate the current scientific evidence for the applicability, safety and effectiveness of pathways of enhanced recovery after emergency surgery (ERAS).Methods: We undertook a search using PubMed and Cochrane databases for ERAS protocols in emergency cases. The search generated 65 titles; after eliminating the papers not meeting search criteria, we selected 4 cohort studies and 1 randomized clinical trial (RCT). Data extracted for analysis consisted of: patient age, type of surgery performed, ERAS elements implemented, surgical outcomes in terms of postoperative complications, mortality, length of stay (LOS) and readmission rate.Results: The number of ERAS items applied was good, ranging from 11 to 18 of the 20 recommended by the ERAS Society. The implementation resulted in fewer postoperative complications. LOS for ES patients was shorter when compared to conventional care.Mortality, specifically reported in three studies, was equal or lower with ERAS. Readmission rates varied widely and were generally higher for the intervention group but without statistical significance.Conclusions: The studies reviewed agreed that ERAS in emergency surgery (ES) was feasible and safe with generally better outcomes. Lower compliance with some of the ERAS items shows the need for the protocol to be adapted to ES patients. More evidence is clearly required as to what can improve outcomes and how this can be formulated into an effective care pathway for the heterogeneous ES patient.