Prehabilitation before general surgery: Worth the effort?

J. G. Kovoor, S. D. Nann, C. Chambers, K. Mishra, S. Goel, I. Thompson, Koh D; Litwin P; Bacchi S; Harford PJ; Stretton B; Gupta AK,

J Perioper Pract 2023 Pages 17504589231214395

Prehabilitation, or interventions before surgery aimed at improving preoperative health and postoperative outcomes, has various forms. Although it may confer benefit to patients undergoing general surgery, this is not certain. Furthermore, although it may yield a net monetary gain, it is also likely to require substantial monetary and non-monetary investment. The impact of prehabilitation is highly variable and dependent on multiple factors. Physical function and pulmonary outcomes are likely to be improved by most forms of prehabilitation involving physical and multimodal exercise programmes. However, other surgical outcomes have demonstrated mixed results from prehabilitation. Within this issue, the measures used for evaluating baseline patient biopsychosocial health are important, and collecting sufficient data to accurately inform patient-centred prehabilitation programmes is only possible through thorough clinical and laboratory investigation and synthesised metrics such as cardiopulmonary exercise testing. Although a multimodal approach to prehabilitation is the current gold standard, societal factors may affect engagement with programmes that require a significant in-person activity. However, this is weighed against the substantial financial and non-financial investment that accompanies many programmes. The overall effectiveness and optimal mode of intervention across the discipline of general surgery remains unclear, and further research is needed to prove prehabilitation’s full worth.