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Implementation of an enhanced recovery program in pediatric laparoscopic colorectal patients does not worsen analgesia despite reduced perioperative opioids: a retrospective, matched, non-inferiority study


Background and objectives Enhanced recovery protocols (ERPs) decrease length of stay and postoperative morbidity, but it is important that these benefits do not come at a cost of sacrificing proper perioperative analgesia. In this retrospective, matched cohort study, we evaluated postoperative pain intensity in pediatric patients who underwent laparoscopic colorectal surgeries before and after ERP implementation.

Methods Patients in each cohort were randomly matched based on age, diagnosis, American Society of Anesthesiologists classification, and surgical procedure. The primary outcome was average daily postoperative pain score, while the secondary outcomes included postoperative hospital length of stay, complication rate, and 30-day readmissions. Since our hypothesis was non-inferior analgesia in the postprotocol cohort, a non-inferiority study design was used.

Results After matching, 36 pairs of preprotocol and postprotocol patients were evaluated. ERP patients had non-inferior recovery room pain scores (difference 0 (−1.19, 0) points, 95% CI −0.22 to 0.26 points, p valuenon-inferiority <0.001) and 4-day postoperative pain scores (difference −0.3±1.9 points, 95% CI −0.82 to 0.48 points, p valuenon-inferiority <0.001) while receiving less postoperative opioids (difference −0.15 [−0.21, –0.05] intravenous morphine equivalents/kg/day, p<0.001). ERP patients also had reduced postoperative hospital stays (difference −1.5 [−4.5, 0] days, p<0.001) and 30-day readmissions (2.8% vs 27.8%, p=0.008).

Conclusions Implementation of our ERP for pediatric laparoscopic colorectal patients was associated with less perioperative opioids without worsening postoperative pain scores. In addition, patients who received the protocol had faster return of bowel function, shorter postoperative hospital stays, and a lower rate of 30-day hospital readmissions. In pediatric laparoscopic colorectal patients, the incorporation of an ERP was associated with a pronounced decrease in perioperative morbidity without sacrificing postoperative analgesia.

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