The evolution of fast track protocols after oesophagectomy
Fast track is a standardised goal directed patient’s care pathway that aims to facilitate recovery following surgery. Currently, there are large variations in the fast track protocols used in oesophagectomy due to the complexity of the procedure. The objective of this systematic review is to assess the evolution of fast track protocols following oesophagectomy since its implementation and the resulting effect on postoperative outcomes. Relevant electronic databases were searched for studies assessing the clinical outcome from fast track in oesophagectomy and also those assessing the effects of the individual key components in fast track protocols. The search yielded twenty-three publications regarding fast track implementation in oesophagectomy. A pattern of consistent evolution in fast-track protocols was clearly demonstrated and these have shown variations in the core-identified components across the studies. However, evolution in fast track protocols over time showed, an overall improvement in length of stay, anastomotic leak, pulmonary complications and mortality over time. Thirty publications were included that evaluated specific components of fast track protocols, with an increasing trend towards addressing the nutritional aspect in oesophagectomy care in more recent years. The variations in the key components of fast track protocol of care identify the need for continued assessment and identification for areas of improvement. In the future incremental gains through focused improvements in key components will lend itself to even better postoperative outcomes and patient experience during oesophageal cancer treatment.