Peritoneal mesothelioma specialist Dr. Charles Conway wants to make major surgery an simpler, more manageable experience for his patients.
His latest innovation — a preoperative, complex-carbohydrate beverage — should help considerably.
Conway, director of surgical oncology at the Ridley-Tree Cancer Center in Santa Barbara, California, will start offering patients the novel drink customized to speed recovery and lessen the risk of perilous side effects.
Conway designed SurgiStrong RecoverAid, a uniquely blended product to fill a void in the growing Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) programs that have sprung up throughout the U.S.
“There just weren’t a lot of options out there for the patients. There was nothing that we liked,” Conway told Asbestos.com. “So we chose to make our own, tweaked just the way it needed to be. We reckon it will catch on.”
Drink Could Shorten Hospital Stays
The use of SurgiStrong RecoverAid is expected to reduce insulin resistance, postoperative nausea and vomiting, loss of muscle mass and surgery-induced immune-depression.
It also should reduce the thirst, hunger and anxiety many patients feel in the hours leading up to surgery. It may reduce the length of hospital stays, too. He recommends it for any type of surgery.
“It’s nearly like carbo-loading before you run a marathon. You can’t do a marathon without calories in the body,” he said. “[It’s the] same with surgery. If your system is in a fed state, it’s more ready and primed to handle surgical stress.”
Patients for decades have been told not to eat or drink after midnight before their morning surgeries. A full stomach raises the risk of perilous anesthesia-related aspiration.
Improved Clinical Outcomes
In recent years, though, numerous studies have shown that preoperative oral carbohydrates can lead to an enhanced recovery and an improved clinical outcome.
Although this has been a well loved theory in Europe for more than a decade, U.S. surgeons have been slower to adopt the practice.
“A lot of medicine is based on dogma. People get nervous about making changes in their practice, but this is going to become more and more normal,” Conway said. “You still can’t eat a bowl of cereal in the morning, but 12 ounces of a clear beverage two or three hours before [surgery] will be helpful.”
There are a few presurgery products already on the market that some surgeons now use, but Conway believes none has the total combination of benefits that SurgiStrong RecoverAid provides.
One Version Comes with Caffeine
The beverage is a complex carbohydrate rich in antioxidant vitamins, key electrolytes (potassium and sodium), and citrulline, which is an amino acid that promotes circulatory health. There are no artificial ingredients, sweeteners or preservatives. It will be absorbed in the gut within 90 minutes.
And it tastes excellent, too. There’s a version with natural caffeine for those who need their morning boost.
“Besides the clinical benefits of the drink, it just makes the patients more comfortable to not be thirsty and starving in preop,” he said. “There are other high-carb beverages out there, but they taste like crap.”
Conway and a physician assistant started designing a better presurgery drink during his eight-year stint as a surgical oncologist at Ochsner Cancer Center in New Orleans. But it didn’t come to fruition until he went his practice to California earlier this year.
The first batch of 12,000 bottles will be produced the second week of October, which is when he will start using it. He believes that hospitals and free-standing surgical centers around the country slowly will follow his lead.
It is compliant with current research recommendations, meeting all anesthesia and surgical guidelines.
“Patients getting the larger operations, like for mesothelioma, those are the ones who will benefit the most,” he said. “The more stress on the body, the better it is to be in a fed state.”
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