Article Abstract

Walking to recovery: the effects of missed ambulation events on postsurgical recovery after bowel resection

Authors: Trent W. Stethen, Yasir A. Ghazi, Robert Eric Heidel, Brian J. Daley, Linda Barnes, Donna Patterson, James M. McLoughlin


Background: Early ambulation after surgery is demonstrated to reduce complications and decreases patient length of stay (LOS) as part of an enhanced recovery after surgery (ERAS) program. This study hypothesizes that missed and refused ambulation attempts prolong patient LOS.
Methods: From January 2014 to December 2016, all patients admitted to one ward who had undergone bowel resection surgery were assigned a dedicated ambulation team with the goal of ambulating 3 times per day. Clinical data was collected prospectively. Statistical analysis of ambulation frequency, percentage of ambulation sessions completed and overall LOS was performed to test the hypothesis.
Results: A total of 127 patients were analyzed for mean age, breakdown of laparoscopic/open procedures/pre-surgery ambulation status. The median LOS (mLOS) for all patients was 4.3 days. When ambulation was not offered for a 24-hour period, the mLOS increased from 3.6 to 6.6 days (P<0.001). When a patient refused to ambulate at any time, the mLOS increased from 4.0 to 4.7 days (P=0.004). There was a significant association between completed ambulation attempts and mLOS (r=−0.536, P<0.001). Increasing narcotic use (r=0.548, P<0.001) including the use of a patient-controlled analgesia (PCA) (r=0.213, P=0.011) increased mLOS.
Conclusions: Ambulation participation is a critical component of an enhanced bowel resection pathway. Non-compliance is associated with an increased LOS. Optimizing pain control, minimizing narcotics, and ensuring adequate ambulation resources also contribute to decreased LOS.