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Feasibility of a tele-prehabilitation program in high-risk patients with colon or rectal cancer undergoing elective surgery: a feasibility study

Perioper Med (Lond). 2022 Jul 26;11(1):28. doi: 10.1186/s13741-022-00260-5.


BACKGROUND: Prehabilitation appears to be an effective strategy to reduce postoperative complications and enhance recovery after colorectal surgery. Although many patients prefer (unsupervised) home-based prehabilitation, adherence can be problematic. Combining home-based prehabilitation with tele-monitoring might demonstrate a higher adherence than unsupervised prehabilitation; however, evidence on its feasibility and effectiveness in patients with colorectal cancer scheduled for elective surgery who are at high risk for postoperative complications is lacking. The aim of this study was to assess the feasibility of a bimodal tele-prehabilitation program in patients with colorectal cancer at high risk for postoperative complications.

METHODS: High-risk patients (oxygen uptake at the ventilatory anaerobic threshold ≤11 mL/kg/min or oxygen uptake at peak exercise ≤ 18 mL/kg/min) with colorectal cancer were included in a home-based bimodal tele-prehabilitation program. The program consisted of a personalized tele-monitored moderate to high-intensity interval training intervention and nutritional counseling. Feasibility was measured by participation rate, dropout rate, adherence to the physical exercise training session’s frequency, intensity, and time, and retention rate. Patient appreciation was measured by a patient appreciation questionnaire. Changes in preoperative physical fitness as secondary outcomes were quantified by time to exhaustion on a constant work rate (cycle) test, number of repetitions on the 30-s chair-stand test, and walking speed on the 4-m gait speed test.

RESULTS: The participation rate was 81%, there were no adverse events, and all participants managed to complete the tele-prehabilitation program (retention rate of 100%). Adherence with regard to the exercise program’s frequency, intensity, and time was respectively 91%, 84%, and 100%. All participants appreciated the tele-prehabilitation program. Time to exhaustion on the constant work rate test improved (not statistically significant) from a pre-prehabilitation median score of 317 seconds to a post-prehabilitation median score of 412 seconds (p = 0.24). Median number of repetitions on the 30-s chair-stand test improved from 12 to 16 (p = 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Tele-prehabilitation seems feasible in high-risk patients with colorectal cancer, but efforts should be made to further improve adherence to physical exercise training intensity. More research is needed to establish the (cost-)effectiveness of tele-prehabilitation regarding preoperative improvements in preoperative aerobic fitness and postoperative reduction of complications.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN, ISRCTN64482109 . Registered 09 November 2021 – Retrospectively registered.

PMID:35879732 | DOI:10.1186/s13741-022-00260-5

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