BACKGROUND: One third of patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) have comorbidity, which impairs their postoperative outcomes. Scoring systems may predict mortality, but there is limited evidence of effective interventions in high-risk patients. Our aim was to test a trial setup to assess the effect of extra postoperative medical visits and follow-up on 1-year mortality and other outcomes in patients with cardiopulmonary risk factors undergoing elective surgery for colorectal tumours.
METHODS: Patients preoperatively screened positive for cardiopulmonary comorbidity were eligible. On postoperative day 4, they were randomised to either routine follow-up (RFU) or RFU with one extra medical visit and additional visits to the Cardiology and Respiratory Medicine Clinics 1 and 3 months postoperatively. The primary outcome measure was 1-year mortality; secondary outcome measures were length of stay (LOS), complications, and readmissions.
RESULTS: Of 673 screened patients 326 (48%) were found eligible, 108 declined participation, and 198 were randomised. Postoperative medical problems and/or need for intervention were found in 15-23% of the patients at the extra medical visits. The 90-day mortality was 0 and the 1-year mortality only 2.6% with no differences between the two groups. LOS and complication rates did not differ, but there were significantly fewer readmissions in the intervention group.
CONCLUSIONS: The 1-year mortality after elective CRC surgery was low, even in the presence of cardiopulmonary risk factors. There was no evidence of reduced mortality with additional medical follow-up in these patients.
TRIAL REGISTRATION: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02328365 registered 31 December 2014 (retrospectively registered).