Professor behind “Fast-Track Surgery” honoured with Award
16 June 2023
Today we are delighted to officially present Professor Henrik Kehlet – the recipient of our inaugural BJS Society Award – with his award at a ceremony in Switzerland’s Lausanne.
Professor Kehlet was selected by a panel of experts from around the global surgical community, in a process similar to that of the selection for Nobel laureates, for his profound impact on patient care.
Described as a “colossus” in the field of research into perioperative care, Professor Kehlet’s works, based on sound basic science research, translational research, clinical trials, and publication of guidelines, have led to a paradigm shift in the principles of perioperative care.
Professor Kehlet qualified in medicine at the University of Copenhagen in 1968 and was awarded his PhD in 1977 for studies related to the surgical stress response in steroid treated patients. By that time, he had already published 36 peer-reviewed papers on the association of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with the metabolic response to surgery, and how manipulation of this axis could potentially affect surgical outcomes. Over the next two decades, he continued to work on modulators of the metabolic response to surgery, perioperative analgesia and stress-induced hyperglycaemia.
He became Professor of Surgery in Copenhagen in 1991 before becoming Professor of Perioperative Therapy in 2006, a post which he holds to this day.
Professor Kehlet was selected as the recipient of this award for his extraordinary efforts in developing and continuously improving the concept of “Fast-track surgery” or “Enhanced Recovery After Surgery” (ERAS) programmes, which over the last three decades, have led to global improvements in patient outcomes following almost all types of surgical intervention.
The protocols borne out of by Professor Kehlet’s research involve a series of evidence-based care elements that can be applied before, during and after surgery, which all support recovery by reducing the bodily stress reactions caused by injury.
ERAS protocols not only produce better outcomes for patients and a more rapid return to better health, but also offer enormous financial benefits to the healthcare system. Kehlet’s concept is now generally accepted and implemented in all surgical societies, and with around 300 million surgical procedures performed worldwide each year, the impact has been significant.
Pooling of results of studies that have adopted his concepts has shown that length of hospital stay was 2.5 days shorter, and the relative risk of developing postoperative complications was 47% less in the ERAS group when compared with conventional care, without an increase in readmission rates or postoperative mortality.
This concept progressively spread across countries, continents and surgical disciplines and ERAS has become standard practice for many.
Throughout his career, Professor Kehlet has published more than 1,250 scientific articles and has given more than 300 invited lectures at international scientific meetings.
It is a privilege to honour Professor Kehlet with our very first BJS Society Award and we hope you are as inspired by his body of work as we are.
Part of the charitable activity of the Society, BJS Academy is an online educational resource for current and future surgeons.
The Academy is comprised of five distinct sections: Continuing surgical education, Young BJS, Cutting edge, Scientific surgery and Surgical news. Although the majority of this is open access, additional content is available to BJS subscribers and strategic partners.