Fast‐track regimen has been shown to reduce postoperative complications in gastrointestinal surgery.

We investigated the incidence and type of postoperative complications and associated risk factors after benign abdominal hysterectomy undertaken in a fast‐track program.

A prospective longitudinal cohort study. In five Swedish hospitals, a cohort of 162 women, ASA 1‐2, undergoing abdominal hysterectomy in a fast‐track program was prospectively studied. Surgery was performed under spinal or general anaesthesia. The fast‐track concept was standardised with discharge criteria and a restricted intravenous fluid regimen. Complications were systematically registered during the five‐week follow‐up period. Risk factors for complications were analysed using multiple logistic regression models.

Forty‐one (25.3%) developed postoperative complications, mainly infection and wound healing complications. The majority of the complications developed after discharge and were treated in the outpatient clinics. Four women (2.5%) were readmitted to hospital. Substantial risk factors for postoperative complications were obesity (OR 8.83), prior laparotomy (OR 2.92) and relative increase in body weight on the first postoperative day (OR 1.52).

Minor infection and wound healing complications seem to be common in healthy women undergoing abdominal hysterectomy in a fast‐track program. Obesity is an important risk factor also in fast‐track abdominal hysterectomy. A modest increase in postoperative relative weight gain during the first postoperative day seemed to increase the risk of postoperative complications. This factor merits further study. Randomised studies are necessary to determine the impact of fast‐track program and perioperative fluid regimens on postoperative complications.