Pathway for Enhanced Recovery After Spinal Surgery

A Systematic Review of Evidence for Use of Individual Components

Ana Licina; Andrew Silvers; Harry Laughlin; Jeremy Russell; Crispin Wan


BMC Anesthesiol. 2021;21(74) 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Enhanced recovery in spinal surgery (ERSS) has shown promising improvements in clinical and economical outcomes. We have proposed an ERSS pathway based on available evidence. We aimed to delineate the clinical efficacy of individual pathway components in ERSS through a systematic narrative review.

Methods: We included systematic reviews and meta-analysis, randomized controlled trials, non-randomized controlled studies, and observational studies in adults and pediatric patients evaluating any one of the 22 pre-defined components. Our primary outcomes included all-cause mortality, morbidity outcomes (e.g., pulmonary, cardiac, renal, surgical complications), patient-reported outcomes and experiences (e.g., pain, quality of care experience), and health services outcomes (e.g., length of stay and costs). Following databases (1990 onwards) were searched: MEDLINE, EMBASE, and Cochrane Library (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and CENTRAL). Two authors screened the citations, full-text articles, and extracted data. A narrative synthesis was provided. We constructed Evidence Profile (EP) tables for each component of the pathway, where appropriate information was available. Due to clinical and methodological heterogeneity, we did not conduct a meta-analyses. GRADE system was used to classify confidence in cumulative evidence for each component of the pathway.

Results: We identified 5423 relevant studies excluding duplicates as relating to the 22 pre-defined components of enhanced recovery in spinal surgery. We included 664 studies in the systematic review. We identified specific evidence within the context of spinal surgery for 14/22 proposed components. Evidence was summarized in EP tables where suitable. We performed thematic synthesis without EP for 6/22 elements. We identified appropriate societal guidelines for the remainder of the components.

Conclusions: We identified the following components with high quality of evidence as per GRADE system: pre-emptive analgesia, peri-operative blood conservation (antifibrinolytic use), surgical site preparation and antibiotic prophylaxis. There was moderate level of evidence for implementation of prehabilitation, minimally invasive surgery, multimodal perioperative analgesia, intravenous lignocaine and ketamine use as well as early mobilization. This review allows for the first formalized evidence-based unified protocol in the field of ERSS.

Further studies validating the multimodal ERSS framework are essential to guide the future evolution of care in patients undergoing spinal surgery.