Feasibility of an Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) pathway for major head and neck oncologic surgery

Garren M.I. Low, Kimberley L. Kiong, Ruth Amaku, Brittany Kruse, Gang Zheng, Randal S. Weber, Carol M. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Objectives: Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols are gaining traction in the field of head and neck surgery following success in other specialties. Various institutions have reported on the feasibility of implementation and early outcomes in their centers. We report our experience of setting up an ERAS program in a high-volume tertiary cancer care center, including the challenges faced and overcome. Methods: With multidisciplinary input, an ERAS protocol was developed consisting of pre-, intra-, and post-operative interventions based on current evidence. We then assessed an initial series of 104 patients on the ERAS protocol and tracked the compliance rates for various interventions. Results: Compliance rates to interventions including pre-operative medication (84.6%), multimodal analgesia (84.6%95.1%), early removal of urinary catheters (76.0%) and early mobilization (56.7%) show a wide variation. However, response rates in the assessment of patient-reported outcomes are low. We discuss factors surrounding the feasibility of implementing an ERAS protocol and tracking outcomes in a diverse, high volume center. Discussion: While there are challenges in implementation, results indicate that a successful ERAS pathway in major head and neck oncologic surgery is feasible. Engaging shareholders and making full use of technology in the form of electronic medical systems are essential to this success. Implications for practice: ERAS pathways should be encouraged in head and neck surgery, given their proven feasibility in a range of institutions. Further study is needed to confirm this program's impact on outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102679
JournalAmerican Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Medicine and Surgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • Cancer
  • Enhanced recovery
  • Head and neck

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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