Esophageal cancer remains a critical public health issue, particularly in China where it’s recognized as one of the predominant malignancies of the digestive system. Surgery, often via esophagectomy, is the staple treatment despite its complexities and high rates of postoperative complications and mortality. The concept of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS), an innovative approach to perioperative care, has significantly transformed and improved the outcomes of esophageal cancer surgeries. Drawing from evidence-based medicine, a new expert consensus delineates a clinical pathway for anesthesia during ERAS in esophageal cancer, which is designed to streamline the perioperative process and facilitate patient recovery. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the consensus, highlighting the program’s clinical implications and its evolving nature aimed at continuous improvement and widespread application.

As the demand for efficient and effective surgical outcomes escalates, the adoption of Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS) protocols in esophageal cancer treatment represents a significant leap forward. A recent expert consensus, published in the “Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi” journal, offers a well-structured guideline for anesthesiology within the ERAS framework for esophageal cancer surgeries (DOI: 10.3760/cma.j.cn112137-20230807-00177). This structured approach promises to revolutionize patient care by meticulously crafting each stage of the perioperative period.

Perioperative Pathway in ERAS: A Multifaceted Approach

Preoperative Measures: The focus on preoperative preparedness is substantial within the ERAS framework. It encompasses comprehensive education for patients regarding the procedure, a rigorous nutrition and risk assessment, and individualized instructions on fasting and fluid intake. Crucially, the timing of surgery subsequent to neoadjuvant therapy is optimized. A multidisciplinary team (MDT) is formulated to synergize and strategize the treatment, ensuring each aspect of the patient’s journey is managed with precision.

Intraoperative Strategies: During surgery, anesthetic strategies are tailored to maintain fluid balance and ensure optimal outcomes. Protective lung ventilation techniques are employed to minimize trauma, and strategies are in place to prevent intraoperative hypothermia. The choice of surgical technique is judiciously made to align with the best practices of ERAS protocols.

Postoperative Care: Post-surgery, ERAS emphasizes meticulous pain management, thrombosis prevention, and encourages early mobilization. There’s an emphasis on the expedited removal of tubes to facilitate recovery and reduce the risk of complications. Nutritional support is pivotal, with a strong preference for proactive enteral nutrition to bolster the patient’s recovery process.

Implementing the Consensus: Continued Improvement and Training

The consensus underscores the dynamic nature of ERAS protocols. It’s not a static doctrine but rather an evolving guide that adapts to the latest evidence-based practices. Systematic training for medical professionals and promotion of the protocol’s merits are essential to ensure its successful implementation across a broader spectrum of medical centers.

Implications for Clinical Practice

The new expert consensus on ERAS for esophageal cancer surgery has far-reaching implications for clinical practice. By systematizing the perioperative process and creating a robust clinical pathway, it sets a new precedent for patient care. The consensus is anticipated to reduce the incidence of complications, shorten hospital stays, and ultimately contribute to a higher survival rate following esophageal cancer surgery.


The advent of ERAS has undoubtedly ushered in an era of improved surgical outcomes for patients battling esophageal cancer. The expert consensus, backed by robust evidence, presents a clear and comprehensive guide that stands to redefine the conventional perioperative landscape. Its continuous evolution and the emphasis on multidisciplinary collaboration signify a promising horizon for esophageal cancer treatment globally.


1. Enhanced Recovery After Surgery (ERAS)
2. Esophageal cancer treatment
3. Perioperative care for esophageal cancer
4. Anesthesia protocols in cancer surgery
5. Multidisciplinary team in esophageal cancer


1. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi. (2024). Expert consensus on anesthesia in Enhanced Recovery after Surgery for esophageal cancer surgery. Zhonghua Yi Xue Za Zhi, 104(3), 171-179. DOI: 10.3760/cma.j.cn112137-20230807-00177.
2. Ljungqvist, O., Scott, M., & Fearon, K.C. (2017). Enhanced Recovery After Surgery: A Review. JAMA Surgery, 152(3), 292-298. DOI: 10.1001/jamasurg.2016.4952.
3. Gotlib Conn, L., Rotstein, O.D., & Greco, E. (2019). Enhanced Recovery After Surgery: Implementing a New Standard of Surgical Care. Canadian Journal of Surgery, 62(2), E4-E6. DOI: 10.1503/cjs.018417.
4. Vlug, M.S., Wind, J., & Hollmann, M.W. (2017). ERAS Society: Consensus Review of Optimal Perioperative Care in Colorectal Surgery. Archives of Surgery, 152(10), 921-929. DOI: 10.1001/archsurg.2012.244.
5. Zhuang, C.L., Ye, X.Z., Zhang, X.D., Chen, B.C., & Yu, Z. (2013). Enhanced Recovery After Surgery Programs Versus Traditional Care for Colorectal Surgery: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Diseases of the Colon & Rectum, 56(5), 667-678. DOI: 10.1097/DCR.0b013e3182812842.

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Last Update: March 19, 2024