Background: This study was designed to determine whether a standardized recovery pathway could reduce post-pancreaticoduodenectomy hospital length of stay to 5 days without increasing complication or readmission rates. Study Design: Pancreaticoduodenectomy patients (high-risk patients excluded) were enrolled in an IRB-approved, prospective, randomized controlled trial (NCT02517268) comparing a 5-day Whipple accelerated recovery pathway (WARP) with our traditional 7-day pathway (control). Whipple accelerated recovery pathway interventions included early discharge planning, shortened ICU stay, modified postoperative dietary and drain management algorithm, rigorous physical therapy with in-hospital gym visit, standardized rectal suppository administration, and close telehealth follow-up post discharge. The trial was powered to detect an increase in postoperative day 5 discharge from 10% to 30% (80% power, α = 0.05, 2-sided Fisher's exact test, target accrual: 142 patients). Results: Seventy-six patients (37 WARP, 39 control) were randomized from June 2015 to September 2017. A planned interim analysis was conducted at 50% trial accrual resulting in mandatory early stoppage, as the predefined efficacy end point was met. Demographic variables between groups were similar. The WARP significantly increased the number of patients discharged to home by postoperative day 5 compared with controls (75.7% vs 12.8%; p < 0.001) without increasing readmission rates (8.1% vs 10.3%; p = 1.0). Overall complication rates did not differ between groups (29.7% vs 43.6%; p = 0.24), but the WARP significantly reduced the time from operation to adjuvant therapy initiation (51 days vs 66 days; p = 0.005) and hospital cost ($26,563 vs $31,845; p = 0.011). Conclusions: The WARP can safely reduce hospital length of stay, time to adjuvant therapy, and cost in selected pancreaticoduodenectomy patients without increasing readmission risk.
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