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The Enhanced Recovery After Surgery protocol for the surgical management of craniosynostosis: Lausanne experience

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OBJECTIVE: Over the past decade, the Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) program has demonstrated its effectiveness and efficiency in improving postoperative care and enhancing recovery across various surgical fields. Preliminary results of ERAS protocol implementation in craniosynostosis surgery are presented.

METHODS: An ERAS protocol was developed and implemented for cranial pediatric neurosurgery, focusing on craniosynostosis repair. The study incorporated a pre-ERAS group consisting of a consecutive series of patients who underwent craniosynostosis repair surgery prior to the implementation of the ERAS protocol; the results were compared with a consecutive group of patients who had been prospectively collected since the introduction of the ERAS for craniosynostosis protocol.

The safety, feasibility, and efficiency of the ERAS protocol in pediatric neurosurgery was evaluated, through the collection of clinical data from the pre-, intra-, and postoperative phase. Surgery-related complications were evaluated according to the Clavien-Dindo classification.

Costs of the stays were obtained using a microcosting approach. RESULTS: A total of 35 pre-ERAS patients and 10 ERAS patients were included.

Scaphocephaly was the most common pathology in both groups. The overall compliance with the pre-, intra-, and postoperative criteria significantly increased-from 35.5%, 64.4%, and 54.7%, respectively, in each phase to 94%, 90%, and 84% (p < 0.001).

The authors noticed a reduction in the average opioid dose used per patient in the ERAS group (p = 0.004), and they observed a trend toward a decreased mean length of stay from 5.2 days in the pre-ERAS group to 4.6 days in the ERAS group, without an increase of the rate of readmission within 30 days of surgery. The rate of complications decreased but this difference was not statistically significant.

The hospital costs lowered significantly: from 21,958 Confederatio Helvetica Francs (CHF) in the pre-ERAS group to 18,936 CHF in the ERAS group (p = 0.02). CONCLUSIONS: The ERAS protocol represents a safe and cost-effective tool for the perioperative management of craniosynostosis.

It showed its positive impact on the analgesia provided and on the reduction of in-hospital costs for these patients. ERAS protocols may thus be interesting options in the pediatric neurosurgical field.