Background: Several studies have demonstrated that prehabilitation helps reduce the incidence of postoperative complications. In this study, we investigated the safety and efficacy of enhanced prehabilitation (EP) in the hospital for patients with esophageal cancer. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the data of 48 consecutive patients who underwent radical esophagectomy with gastric tube reconstruction between September 2015 and June 2019. EP program had been introduced in August 2017. In the EP group, patients received the EP program during hospitalization 7 days before surgery in addition to conventional perioperative rehabilitation. The EP program consisted of aerobic exercise and muscle strength training in the morning and afternoon. Operative outcomes were compared between patients who received EP (EP group; 23 patients) and patients who did not receive EP (control group; 25 patients). Results: The preoperative (EP group vs. control group, 492.9 ± 79.7 vs. 418.9 ± 71.8 m, p < 0.001) and postoperative (EP group vs. control group, 431.5 ± 80 vs. 378 ± 68.7 m, p < 0.001) 6-min walk distance was significantly higher in the EP group than in the control group. The respiratory complications rate was significantly lower in the EP group (4.3%) than in the control group (36%) (p = 0.007). The incidence of atelectasis was particularly significantly lower in the EP group (0%) than in the control group (24%) (p = 0.012). Conclusions: EP was performed safely for patients before esophagectomy. EP improved the exercise tolerance of the patients before esophagectomy and might be useful in preventing respiratory complications.
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