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Presurgery exercise-based conditioning interventions (prehabilitation) in adults undergoing lower limb surgery for peripheral arterial disease (Review)

Palmer, Joanne; Pymer, Sean; Smith, George E.; Harwood, Amy; Ingle, Lee; Huang, Chao; Chetter, Ian C.


Joanne Palmer

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Mr Sean Pymer
Academic Clinical Exercise Physiologist

George E. Smith

Amy Harwood

Ian C. Chetter


Copyright © 2020 The Cochrane Collaboration. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Background: Lower limb peripheral arterial disease (PAD) is a type of cardiovascular disease where the blood vessels that carry the blood to the legs are hardened and narrowed. The most severe manifestation of PAD is critical limb ischaemia (CLI). This condition results in symptoms of intractable rest pain, non-healing wounds and ulceration, gangrene or both. PAD affects more than 200 million people worldwide and approximately 3% to 5% of people aged over 40 have PAD, rising to 18% in people over 70 years of age. Between 5% to 10% of symptomatic PAD patients will progress to CLI over a five-year period and the five year cumulative incidence rate for asymptomatic patients with PAD deteriorating to intermittent claudication is 7%, with 21% of these progressing to CLI. Treatment options include angioplasty, bypass or amputation of the limb, when life or limb is threatened. People with CLI have a high risk of mortality and morbidity. The mortality rates during a surgical admission are approximately 5%. Within one year of surgery, the mortality rate rises to 22%. Postoperative complications are as high as 30% and readmission rates vary between 7% to 18% in people with CLI. Despite recent advances in surgical technology, anaesthesia and perioperative care, a proportion of surgical patients have a suboptimal recovery. Presurgery conditioning (prehabilitation) is a multimodal conditioning intervention carried out prior to surgery using a combination of exercise, with or without nutritional or psychological interventions, or both. The use of prehabilitation is gaining momentum, particularly in elderly patients undergoing surgery and patients undergoing colorectal cancer surgery, as a means of optimising fitness to improve the prognosis for people undergoing the physiological stress of surgery. People with PAD are characterised by poor mobility and physical function and have a lower level of fitness as a result of disease progression. Therefore, prehabilitation may be an opportunity to improve their recovery following surgery. However, as multimodal prehabilitation requires considerable resources, it is important to assess whether it is superior to usual care. This review aimed to compare prehabilitation with usual care (defined as a preoperative assessment, including blood and urine tests). The key outcomes were postoperative complications, mortality and readmissions within 30 days of the surgical procedure, and one-year survival rates. Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of prehabilitation (preoperative exercise, either alone or in combination with nutritional or psychological interventions, or both) on postoperative outcomes in adults with PAD undergoing open lower limb surgery. Search methods: The Cochrane Vascular Information Specialist searched the Cochrane Vascular Specialised Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, World Health Organization International Clinical Trials Registry Platform and trials register to 25 September 2019. Selection criteria: We considered all published and unpublished randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing presurgery interventions and usual care. Primary outcomes were postoperative complications, mortality and readmission to hospital within 30 days of the surgical procedure. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently reviewed all records identified by the searches conducted by the Cochrane Vascular Information Specialist. We planned to undertake data collection and analysis in accordance with recommendations described in the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions. Main results: We found no RCTs that met the inclusion criteria for this review. Authors' conclusions: We found no RCTs conducted to determine the effects of prehabilitation on mortality or other postoperative outcomes when compared to usual care for patients with PAD. As a consequence, we were unable to provide any evidence to guide the treatment of patients with PAD undergoing surgery. To perform a randomised controlled trial of presurgery conditioning would be challenging but trials are warranted to provide solid evidence on this topic.


Harwood, A. E., Palmer, J., Pymer, S., Smith, G. E., Harwood, A., Ingle, L., …Chetter, I. C. (2020). Presurgery exercise-based conditioning interventions (prehabilitation) in adults undergoing lower limb surgery for peripheral arterial disease (Review). The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2020(9),

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Sep 21, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 21, 2020
Publication Date Sep 21, 2020
Deposit Date Sep 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Sep 22, 2021
Journal Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
Electronic ISSN 1469-493X
Publisher Cochrane Collaboration
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 2020
Issue 9
Article Number CD013407
Public URL
Publisher URL


Published article (338 Kb)

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©2020 The authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder

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