Application of standardized hemodynamic protocols within enhanced recovery after surgery programs to improve outcomes associated with anastomotic leak and conduit necrosis in patients undergoing esophagectomy

Fredrik Klevebro, Piers R. Boshier, Donald E. Low


Esophagectomy for cancer is associated with high risk for postoperative morbidity. The most serious regularly encountered complication is anastomotic leak and the most feared individual complication is conduit necrosis. Both of these complications affect the length of stay, mortality, quality of life, and survival for patients undergoing esophageal resection. The maintenance of conduit viability is of primary importance in the perioperative care of patients following esophageal resection. It has been shown that restrictive fluid management may be associated with improved postoperative outcomes in abdominal and other types of surgery, but many factors can affect the incidence of anastomotic leak and the viability of the gastric conduit. We have performed a comprehensive review with the aim to give an overview of the available evidence for the use of standardized hemodynamic protocols (SHPs) for esophagectomy and review the hemodynamic protocol, which has been applied within a standardized clinical pathway (SCP) at the Department of Thoracic surgery at the Virginia Mason Medical Center between 2004–2018 where the anastomotic leak rate over the period has been 5.2% and the incidence of conduit necrosis requiring surgical management is zero. The literature review demonstrates that there are few high quality studies that provide scientific evidence for the use of a SHP. The evidence indicates that the use of goal-directed hemodynamic monitoring might be associated with a reduced risk for postoperative complications, shortened length of stay, and decreased need for intensive care unit stay. We propose that the routine application of a SHP can provide a uniform infrastructure to optimize conduit perfusion and decrease the incidence of anastomotic leak.