Preoperative exercise training for adults undergoing elective major vascular surgery: A systematic review

Garry Tew*, Kim Caisley, Gerard Danjoux

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Patients undergoing major vascular surgery may have an increased risk of postoperative complications due to poor ‘fitness for surgery’. Prehabilitation aims to optimise physical fitness and risk factors before surgery to improve outcomes. The role of exercise-based prehabilitation in vascular surgery is currently unclear. Therefore, the aim of this systematic review was to assess the benefits and harms of preoperative exercise training in adults undergoing elective vascular surgery. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and CENTRAL databases, trial registries, and forward and backward citations for studies published between January 2008 and April 2021. We included randomised trials that compared patients receiving exercise training with those receiving usual care or no training before vascular surgery. Outcomes included mortality, complications, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Three trials with 197 participants were included. All studies involved people undergoing abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) repair. Low-certainty evidence could not differentiate between rates of all-cause mortality. Moderate-certainty evidence indicated that postoperative cardiac and renal complications were less likely to occur in people who participated in preoperative exercise training compared with those who did not. Low-certainty evidence also indicated better postoperative HRQOL outcomes in people who undertook prehabilitation. There were no serious exercise-related adverse events. The evidence on preoperative exercise training for AAA patients is promising, but currently insufficiently robust for this intervention to be recommended in clinical guidelines. High quality trials are needed to establish its clinical and cost-effectiveness. Research is also needed to determine the feasibility and effects of prehabilitation before lower-limb revascularisation.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0263090
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS One
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jan 2022


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