With the changes in health care dictated by economic pressure, there has been a realization that hospital stay could be shortened without compromising quality of care. Advances in surgical technology and anesthetic drugs have made an impact in the way perioperative care is delivered with some emphasis on multidisciplinary approach. From the expansion of ambulatory care, lessons were learnt how to apply same concepts to major surgery with the understanding that interventions to attenuate the surgical stress would facilitate the return to “baseline”. Beside minimal invasive approach to surgery, anesthesia interventions are arranged with the intent to decrease the negative effects of surgical stress and pain, to minimize the side effects of drugs and at the same time to facilitate the recuperation which follows after surgery. Fast-track or accelerated care encompasses many aspects of anesthesia care, not only preoperative preparation and prehabilitation, but intraoperative attenuation of surgical stress and postoperative rehabilitation. The anesthesiologist is part of this team with the specific mission to use medications and techniques which have the least side effects on organ functions, provide analgesia which in turn facilitates the intake of food and mobilization out of bed. This chapter has been conceived with the intention to direct the clinician towards procedure-specific protocols where the choice of medications and techniques is based on published evidence. The success of implementing fast-track depends more on dynamic harmony amongst the various participants (surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, nutrtionists, physiotherapists) than on reaching an optimum level of excellence at each separate organization level.
Keywords: Fast-track surgery, perioperative pathways, anesthesia, pre-emptive analgesia, multimodal analgesia, postoperative outcomes
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