Prestigious award for Professor Henrik Kehlet

Prof. Henrik Kehlet's research into painless and risk-free post-op recovery is being honoured with the most prestigious award from the American Society of Anesthesiology.

On 13 October 2014, the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) will present their most prestigious award, the Excellence in Research Award, for the 28th time. For the first time ever this internationally recognised distinction is not only being awarded to a surgeon rather than an anaesthesiologist, but the recipient is also a Dane.

Prof. Kehlet is being presented with the award for his long-term work in developing and implementing the fast-track principles in surgery. This work began with Prof. Kehlet's research in Denmark in the 1990s, and has since been spread all over the world. Today the majority of surgical specialist areas are working under the fast-track principle.

Research with enormous impact 

On the face of things, it seems incongruous to present a surgeon with one of the finest anaesthesiological distinctions. However, in many ways the fast-track philosophy has revolutionised how post-op recovery is viewed, focusing on all components in the patient pathway. Therefore Prof. Kehlet's research has also had an enormous influence on anaesthesiologists' contribution to safer post-op recovery with fewer side effects and fewer late complications.

- Prof. Kehlet is perhaps the most well-known surgeon among anaesthesiologists around the world due to his substantial contributions toward the understanding of surgical pathophysiology. His work has been cited thousands of times and he has also been invited to lecture worldwide. Since its introduction, Prof. Kehlet’s 'fast-track' concept has been met with universal acclaim, resulting in the implementation of 'fast-Track surgery' protocols throughout the Western hemisphere, said Prof. in anaesthesiology Francesco Carli from Montreal, Canada.

New collaboration on cancer surgery

Most recently Prof. Kehlet has initiated collaboration with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in the US, because the departments of anaesthesiology and surgery at MD Anderson want to introduce the fast-track concept in complicated cancer surgery. In the wake of this, Rigshospitalet and the MD Anderson Cancer Center have started a research collaboration in which they will be exchanging data on optimisation of post-op recovery, for example for patients with cancer of the liver, pancreas, oesophagus, bladder and lungs.

The ASA Excellence in Research Award will be presented to Prof. Kehlet at an official ceremony on 13 October in New Orleans. Afterwards Prof. Kehlet will be the guest editor for a special edition of ASA's scientific journal which solely includes original research in fast-track surgery.


Henrik Kehlet in brief

Prof. Henrik Kehlet is a clinical Prof. in surgical pathophysiology at Rigshospitalet. He is the author behind more than 950 scientific publications in international journals and is an honorary member of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, American College of Surgeons, American Surgical Association, German Surgical Society, German Anaesthesiological Society and the Faculty of Pain Medicine in Australia.
Prof. Kehlet has previously received the Novo Nordisk Award, the August Krogh Prize, the KFJ Award and the Global Excellence Award.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists Award for Excellence in Research is presented every year to a researcher with outstanding research achievements which have had - or will have - an important impact on the field of anaesthesiology in the Western world. This is the first time ever the award is being presented to a surgeon, and this is also the first time the award is being presented to a Scandinavian. The ASA Award for Excellence in Research has been awarded since 1986.

Fast-track surgery in brief
Fast-track surgery focuses on painless and risk-free operations. This involves accelerated patient pathways based on evidence-based research in all components in post-op recovery; from the introductory examinations to the surgical procedure itself and subsequent rehabilitation.

Fast-track surgery results in shorter admission periods, faster restitution, fewer complications and greater patient safety. Focus is primarily on cross-disciplinary cooperation and the principles include all specialist areas in and around post-op recovery.

Responsible editor