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130856 - ICEAGE Incidence of Complications following Emergency Abdominal surgery.pdf (1.55 MB)

ICEAGE (Incidence of Complications following Emergency Abdominal surgery: Get Exercising): study protocol of a pragmatic, multicentre, randomised controlled trial testing physiotherapy for the prevention of complications and improved physical recovery after emergency abdominal surgery

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posted on 2023-05-20, 00:55 authored by Ianthe BodenIanthe Boden, Sullivan, K, Hackett, C, Winzer, B, Lane, R, McKinnon, M, Iain RobertsonIain Robertson

Background: Postoperative complications and delayed physical recovery are significant problems following emergency abdominal surgery. Physiotherapy aims to aid recovery and prevent complications in the acute phase after surgery and is commonplace in most first-world hospitals. Despite ubiquitous service provision, no well-designed, adequately powered, parallel-group, randomised controlled trial has investigated the effect of physiotherapy on the incidence of respiratory complications, paralytic ileus, rate of physical recovery, ongoing need for formal sub-acute rehabilitation, hospital length of stay, health-related quality of life, and mortality following emergency abdominal surgery. We hypothesise that an enhanced physiotherapy care package of additional education, breathing exercises, and early rehabilitation prevents postoperative complications and improves physical recovery following emergency abdominal surgery compared to standard care alone.

Methods: The Incidence of Complications following Emergency Abdominal surgery: Get Exercising (ICEAGE) trial is a pragmatic, investigator-initiated, multicentre, patient- and assessor-blinded, parallel-group, active-placebo controlled randomised trial, powered for superiority. ICEAGE will compare standard care physiotherapy to an enhanced physiotherapy care package in 288 participants admitted for emergency abdominal surgery at three Australian hospitals. Participants will be randomised using concealed allocation to receive either standard care physiotherapy (education, single session of coached breathing exercises, and daily early ambulation for 15 min) or an enhanced physiotherapy care package (education, twice daily coached breathing exercises for a minimum 2 days, and 30 min of daily supervised early rehabilitation for minimum five postoperative days). The primary outcome is a respiratory complication within the first 14 postoperative hospital days assessed daily with standardised diagnostic criteria. Secondary outcomes include referral for sub-acute rehabilitation services, discharge destination, paralytic ileus, hospital length of stay and costs, intensive care unit utilisation, 90-day patient-reported complications and health-related quality of life and physical capacity, and mortality at 30 days and at 1 year following surgery.

Discussion: The morbidity, mortality, and fiscal burdens following emergency abdominal surgery are some of the worst within surgery. Physiotherapy may be an effective, low-cost, minimal harm intervention to improve outcomes and reduce hospital utilisation following this surgery type. ICEAGE will test the benefits of this commonly provided intervention within a methodologically robust, multicentre, double-blinded, active-placebo controlled randomised trial.


Publication title

World Journal of Emergency Surgery



Article number









School of Health Sciences


BioMed Central

Place of publication

United Kingdom

Rights statement

Copyright 2018 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Treatment of human diseases and conditions

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