Simple treatment before surgery helping patients at Fresno medical center recover faster

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Patients at a Fresno medical center are recovering faster because of a treatment they receive before surgery, instead of after. (KFSN)

Patients at a Fresno medical center are recovering faster because of a treatment they receive before surgery, instead of after. It's a set of simple steps that's making a big difference and patients are surprised to learn, the treatment includes a well-known sports drink that seems to have body-boosting power

Every step is a celebration for Patty Markarian of Fresno who walks without pain after total knee replacements on both legs. In fact, after her last surgery in February, the 70-year-old retired school administrator, walked out of the hospital, the next day.

"I've just been totally blown away with how well I've been able to come back."

Patty underwent a new, pre-surgery program at Kaiser Permanente Fresno, called ERAS-- short for Enhanced Recovery After Surgery. It's a total about-face from the traditional approach to surgery-- priming the body before the operation for a better recovery, instead of concentrating on treating complications and pain after the procedure.

"This is a paradigm shift within our medical care where we are challenging a lot of the traditional ways of providing medical care," said Dr. Allen Tran, Anesthesiologist, Kaiser.

The ERAS kit contains simple, but effective items. Patients are given a spirometer to strengthen their lungs-- taking 10 deep breaths a day for a week before surgery, to cut the risk of developing pneumonia after surgery. Cleansing wipes for the skin prevent post-op infections. And just brushing their teeth before surgery, cuts down on bacteria in the mouth preventing respiratory problems.

Then patients get a highly concentrated carbohydrate drink, made by-- Gatorade.

"Patients drink 2 hours prior to arrival and food helps prepare the body before surgery and helps the body after surgery-- gives them more energy," said Scott Lucchesi, Registered Nurse, Kaiser.

Patients traditionally fast for hours before surgery to have an empty stomach, but Kaiser says that actually leads to a more difficult recovery because of nausea, low energy, and pain.

Kaiser found after using the ERAS program, patients had energy, could eat and move around, and needed much less pain medication. So they typically could leave the hospital in a day instead of three to five days.

The ERAS program has been so successful in recovery outcomes, Dr. Tran said Kaiser's next goal is to have some surgery patients be well enough to leave the hospital the same day as their procedure. Getting them back to their lives faster and healthier.

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