From the Journals

Enhanced recovery program improves outcomes after cesarean delivery



Implementing an enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) program for cesarean delivery led to decreased opioid use, shorter length of stay, and decreased costs, according to recent research published in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Mother and baby ©Cameron Whitman/Thinkstock

Luciana Mullman, MPH, of Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, N.J., and colleagues used a pre-post study design to evaluate the effectiveness of ERAS at a tertiary care institution after implementing the program for patients undergoing scheduled or emergent cesarean delivery between December 2018 and August 2019. The researchers compared the rates of opioid use, length of stay, and costs of care for patients undergoing cesarean section after ERAS was implemented with those outcomes for cesarean deliveries at the center prior to ERAS between January 2018 and December 2018.

The ERAS program

ERAS was described in the study as incorporating a preoperative strategy, intraoperative management and postoperative care for cesarean delivery. The preoperative strategy consisted of a patient guidebook and a personal meeting for patient education on what to expect for preoperative and postoperative experiences as well as instructions leading up to the surgery.

For intraoperative management, intravenous opioids were minimized and replaced with neuraxial opioids when appropriate. The patient’s body temperature was monitored and controlled during the intraoperative pathway, and fluid balance was maintained. To prevent postoperative nausea and vomiting, IV ondansetron at a dose of 4 mg was started at the beginning of the cesarean delivery. When the cesarean delivery was complete, an anesthesiologist administered transversus abdominis plane blocks with 0.3% ropivacaine 30 mL on each side before the patient moved to the recovery area.

Postoperatively, the patient’s catheter was removed in the recovery room, and then transferred to postpartum floors if appropriate based on patient status. Patients began resuming a clear liquid diet 1 hour after cesarean delivery and a regular diet 6 hours after delivery. At 6 hours after surgery, the patient was out of bed and moving; walks around the nursing unit were scheduled three times per day at minimum. For pain, patients were given a 1,000-mg acetaminophen tablet every 8 hours, a 600-mg ibuprofen tablet every 6 hours, and dextromethorphan 30 mg/mL every 8 hours, with oral oxycodone 5 mg administered after physician evaluation for breakthrough pain.

Overall, there were 3,679 cesarean deliveries in the study, which included 2,171 deliveries prior to ERAS implementation and 1,508 cesarean deliveries after implementation. Patients with a scheduled cesarean delivery prior to ERAS implementation received no consistent educational program for anticipating cesarean delivery. After implementation, those patients with scheduled cesarean delivery received the full preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative pathway, while emergent cesarean cases included the intraoperative management and postoperative care, but did not contain the preoperative component.

Improved outcomes after ERAS

The researchers found a significant decrease in the use of opioids after implementing ERAS at the center, with 24% of patients receiving opioids after ERAS, compared with 84% of patients prior to ERAS (odds ratio, 16.8; 95% confidence interval, 14.3-19.9; P < .001). These reductions in opioid use from the pre- and postimplementation periods were similar for patients with scheduled cesarean deliveries (85% vs. 27%; OR, 14.9; 95% CI, 12.2-18.3; P < .001) and emergent cesarean deliveries (83% vs. 19%; OR, 21.4; 95% CI, 16.1-28.7; P < .001).

There was also a significant reduction in total morphine milligram equivalents (MME) for patients who received opioids after ERAS (median, 15.0 MME), compared with before (median, 56.5 MME) implementing ERAS (mean relative change, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.28-0.35; P < .001). These results also were significant among both scheduled (median 59.9 vs. 15.0 MME; mean relative change, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.27-0.36; P < .001) and emergent (median 56.5 vs. 15.0 MME; mean relative change, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.89-1.01; P < .001) cesarean deliveries.

The overall length of stay after cesarean delivery significantly decreased after ERAS from an average of 3.2 days to 2.7 days (mean relative change, 0.82, 95% CI, 0.80-0.83; P < .001), and was significant in both scheduled (3.2 vs. 2.7 days; mean relative change, 0.83; 95% CI, 0.81-0.85; P < .001) and emergent (3.1 vs. 2.5 days; mean relative change, 0.80; 95% CI, 0.77-0.82; P < .001) groups. While the number of patients discharged within 2 days increased from 9% to 49% after ERAS implementation, there was no significant difference overall or in either group regarding 30-day readmission. The researchers also noted the median direct costs of cesarean delivery decreased by $349 per case after starting ERAS (mean relative change, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.91-0.95).

ERAS implementation lagging in obstetrics

In an interview, Iris Krishna, MD, MPH, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Emory University, Atlanta, said the ERAS approach has been used successfully in other surgical specialties but has “lagged” in obstetrics. “To date, there has been less attention in improving perioperative outcomes for women undergoing cesarean delivery, the most common abdominal surgery for women.”

Dr. Krishna said this study shows ERAS can be used in obstetrics to improve outcomes after cesarean section without increasing readmission rates. “Overall, this study demonstrates that ERAS can be successfully implemented for cesarean delivery as it has been for a variety of surgical specialties. ERAS for cesarean delivery can improve the quality of patient care while reducing health care costs.”

Women in the postpartum and postoperative period could benefit from ERAS as they recover from surgery and adjust to becoming a new mother, Dr. Krishna noted. “The goal of ERAS is to help patients return to physiological functioning as quickly as possible. Improving postoperative recovery can help with mother-infant bonding and breastfeeding.

“Implementation of a standardized approach for cesarean delivery has the potential to reduce health disparities and the disproportionately high rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in the United States,” she added. “ERAS for cesarean delivery also has the potential to address the opioid epidemic amongst reproductive-age women by improving postcesarean pain management and reducing opioid prescribing.”

Dr. Krishna also explained that an ERAS program would be feasible to implement in most centers. “It will require a shift of some elements of care from the inpatient to outpatient setting, but theoretically feasible as pregnant women frequently undergo many clinic visits during their pregnancy course.

“Education on ERAS for cesarean delivery can be implemented into prenatal care visits. ERAS implementation will also require a multidisciplinary team approach that includes obstetrics, anesthesia, nursing, pharmacy, pediatrics – all key stakeholders that will need to ‘buy in’ or be willing to support the protocol to ensure its success. As in this study, it would be helpful for hospitals to have an ERAS coordinator to champion and ensure compliance of protocol.”

Dr. Miller reported that he has received payments from the Coventus Professional Liability Insurance: Risk Management Committee and the New Jersey Board of Medical Examiners. The other authors reported no relevant conflicts of interest. Dr. Krishna reported no relevant conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Mullman L et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2020 Oct. doi: 10.1097/AOG.0000000000004023.

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