Front-Load Recovery

Prehab improves surgical outcomes.

When it comes to creating better outcomes for surgical patients, prehabilitation is the ticket, says Sandy Fogel, M.D., a surgeon and surgical quality officer for Carilion Clinic in Roanoke. To help patients, Fogel designed and conducts pre-surgical classes that cover:  

Nutrition—A healthy diet, supplemented by an amino acid-infused drink (three times a day, five days before surgery) can help prevent dehydration and encourage wound healing.

Carb-Loading—Patients can prepare their bodies to better handle the stress of surgery by drinking two 25-gram, carb-rich drinks one day before their procedure.

Exercise—Even moderate exercise can help patients be more agile after surgery. Fogel encourages 3-4 short walks per day the week before a procedure.

Oral Care—Good oral hygiene—including brushing, flossing and using mouthwash—is recommended the week before surgery to reduce the risk of bacterial infections.

Expanding the Lungs—Deep breathing exercises are encouraged during the week before surgery.

Statins—If patients are not already taking them, cholesterol-lowering statins are introduced the week before surgery to help patients reduce the risk of a cardiac event.

“We have solid data on the benefits of prehabilitation to our colorectal, abdominal gynecological and spinal patients,” says Fogel. For colorectal patients, she says prehab reduced the length of hospital stays and unplanned returns to the operating room as well as the rates of surgical site infection, pneumonia and mortality. CarilionClinic.org

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