AUSTIN, TEX. – Enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) protocols have been around for decades, but typically excluded patients having surgery for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). However, recent studies have shown strategies to optimize these patients, including presurgery carbohydrate loading and early postsurgery feeding, can improve outcomes, according to a review of evidence presented at the annual congress of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and the American Gastroenterological Association.
“It’s really important that we implement strategies to help mitigate the impact that malnutrition is going to have on our perioperative patients, and one of the ways we do that is by using an ERAS or enhanced recovery after surgery protocol,” said Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2008;14:1139-46)., of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles. She noted that patients with IBD are five times more likely to be malnourished than non-IBD patients, and those with fistulizing Crohn’s disease and bowel resections are at greatest risk (
“I constantly see patients who are kept NPO [nothing by mouth] 12 or 24 hours before surgery, maybe even longer sometimes, unfortunately,” she said. “We should really be minimizing that NPO to help mitigate the catabolic effect that surgery has on our patients and help them recover more quickly.”
To screen surgery patients for nutrition risk, Ms. Issokson said that gastroenterologists can ask two questions from the malnutrition screening tool: Did the patient have recent unintentional weight loss, and is the patient eating less because of poor appetite? A yes to either question merits referral to a registered dietician. Malnutrition, weight loss of 5%-10% of total body weight, and sarcopenia are predictors of surgical complications for IBD patients, the latter an independent predictor in patients aged 40 years and older.
The ERAS protocol involves optimizing preoperative and postoperative nutrition, she said. It has been linked with improved outcomes in elective colorectal surgery (), although the evidence in IBD isn’t as robust. She cited a retrospective study reported at the 2019 annual Digestive Disease Week of patients with Crohn’s disease that found no difference in readmissions, complications, or reoperations between ERAS and standard-care patients.
Preoperative nutrition optimization in ERAS involves anemia and fluid management, oral nutrition supplementation, and – based on European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) 2017 guidelines – delaying the operation where possible if the patient is malnourished. “Patients who receive preoperative nutrition support have been shown to have better outcomes postoperatively,” Ms. Issokson said, citing a meta-analysis of 1,111 Crohn’s disease patients that reported the complication rate was 20% in patients on nutrition support versus 60% for those on standard care; in those on enteral nutrition, the disparity was more pronounced: 21% versus 73% (Eur J Gastro Hep. 2018;30:997-1002).
Gastroenterologists should not be afraid of implementing total parenteral nutrition (TPN) perioperatively in these patients, Ms. Issokson said. “This can really help to improve outcomes and quality of life in our patients, and it’s something that we really should not shy away from,” she added in an interview. “If our patients are malnourished and meet the criteria for TPN, then we should really not be withholding it.” Patients with severe IBD who are not absorbing from their gut and can’t meet 60% of their needs by mouth are prime candidates for TPN, she said, referencing a 2019 study that reported that preoperative TPN in malnourished IBD patients resulted in a rate of overall noninfectious complications half that of no-TPN patients: 8.3% versus 16.8% ().
Carbohydrate loading before surgery is a big part of ERAS in these patients. “Surgery has a huge impact on the catabolic state of a patient,” Ms. Issokson said. “It’s similar to running a marathon; you wouldn’t go out and run a marathon without fueling up the night before with a whole bunch of carbohydrates. So we use this same strategy in our surgical patients.”
ERAS society guidelines call for 100 g of carbohydrates the night before and 50 g 2 hours before surgery in the form of a clear liquid beverage, along with permitting a light meal up to 6 hours before, with exceptions in gastroparesis, motility disorders, and emergency surgery.
Another key component of ERAS in IBD is early postoperative feeding. “Postoperatively we want to feed our patients as soon as possible,” Ms. Issokson said. ESPEN guidelines call for feeding patients with new nondiverted colorectal anastomosis within 4 hours. “Studies show that patients aren’t able to eat enough calories to help them recover postoperatively, so implementing an oral nutrition supplement might be helpful there,” she added.
Ms. Issokson is a Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation board member, and disclosed financial relationships with Orgain, RMEI, and Medscape.
SOURCE: Issokson K et al. Crohn’s & Colitis Congress 2020, .