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World J Surg. 2013 Apr;37(4):711-20. doi: 10.1007/s00268-012-1886-4.

Effect of preoperative exercise on cardiorespiratory function and recovery after surgery: a systematic review.

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Department of Surgery, South Auckland Clinical School, University of Auckland, Private Bag 93311, Auckland, 1640, New Zealand.



This systematic review aims to investigate the extent to which preoperative conditioning (PREHAB) improves physiologic function and whether it correlates with improved recovery after major surgery.


An electronic database search identified randomized controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the safety and efficacy of PREHAB. The outcomes studied were changes in cardiorespiratory physiologic function, clinical outcomes (including length of hospital stay and rates of postoperative complications), and measures of changes in functional capacity (physical and psychological).


Eight low- to medium-quality RCTs were included in the final analysis. The patients were elderly (mean age >60 years), and the exercise programs were significantly varied. Adherence to PREHAB was low. Only one study found that PREHAB led to significant improvement in physiologic function correlating with improved clinical outcomes.


There are only limited data to suggest that PREHAB confers any measured physiologic improvement with subsequent clinical benefit. Further data are required to investigate the efficacy and safety of PREHAB in younger patients and to identify interventions that may help improve adherence to PREHAB.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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