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Research & Innovation | Overview

The ERAS Cardiac Program at Boston Children’s Hospital is the first of its kind to be implemented in pediatric cardiac surgery. It has inspired other pediatric hospitals to create ERAS cardiac programs. Since our start in 2018, our program has helped nearly 2,000 patients recover after cardiac surgery. But we’re not done innovating. We’re constantly researching and considering new approaches to surgical care and recovery. Here are studies we’re leading or participating in to advance patient recovery:

Reducing post-surgical pain with fewer opioids

With clinicians and parents both aware of the risks of opioid addiction, we’re studying the effectiveness of approaches to minimize post-operative pain in patients. Working alongside the Department of Anesthesiology, Critical Care and Pain Medicine, one such approach is administering a non-opioid anesthetic through a nerve block or catheter, in addition to intravenous and oral pain medications. 

Fitness trackers to measure recovery

A patient’s level of comfort following surgery and their overall recovery is assessed throughout a day by a fitness and wellness tracker. This study follows a patient’s sleep patterns and steps taken during a day. The tracker also measures heart rate and other vital signs that can detect discomfort or pain. We also ask patients to answer an electronic questionnaire assessing their pain and sleep.

Recovery is a family centered experience

Our top priority is minimizing post-operative pain and making patients feel healthy as soon as possible so they can go home. To gauge how effectively we manage a child’s recovery, we ask their family members to share their thoughts about the post-surgical recovery process. Tracking recovery and the satisfaction of families is one of the most valuable measurements we can use to see how effectively we help patients.

Selected publications

  • Roy N, Parra MF, Brown ML, Sleeper LA, Nathan M, Sefton BA, Baird CW, Mistry KP, Del Nido PJ. Initial experience introducing an enhanced recovery program in congenital cardiac surgery. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2020 11; 160(5):1313-1321.e5. PMID: 31859070.
  • Roy N, Brown ML, Parra MF, Sleeper LA, Alrayashi W, Nasr VG, Eklund SE, Cravero JP, Del Nido PJ, Brusseau R. Bilateral Erector Spinae Blocks Decrease Perioperative Opioid Use After Pediatric Cardiac Surgery. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2021 Jul; 35(7):2082-2087. PMID: 33139160.
  • Fuller S, Kumar SR, Roy N, Mahle WT, Romano JC, Nelson JS, Hammel JM, Imamura M, Zhang H, Fremes SE, McHugh-Grant S, Nicolson SC. The American Association for Thoracic Surgery Congenital Cardiac Surgery Working Group 2021 consensus document on a comprehensive perioperative approach to enhanced recovery after pediatric cardiac surgery. J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg. 2021 Sep; 162(3):931-954. PMID: 34059337.
  • Roy N, Parra MF, Brown ML, Sleeper LA, Carlson L, Rhodes B, Nathan M, Mistry KP, Del Nido PJ. Enhancing Recovery in Congenital Cardiac Surgery. Ann Thorac Surg. 2022 11; 114(5):1754-1761. PMID: 34710385.
  • Parra MF, Brown ML, Staffa SJ, Nathan M, Roy N. Post-operative vomiting and enhanced recovery after congenital cardiac surgery. Cardiol Young. 2023 Feb; 33(2):260-265. PMID: 35322768.
  • Buchanan R, Roy N, Parra MF, Staffa SJ, Brown ML, Nasr VG. Race and Outcomes in Patients with Congenital Cardiac Disease in an Enhanced Recovery Program. J Cardiothorac Vasc Anesth. 2022 09; 36(9):3603-3609. PMID: 35577651.