Respiratory physiotherapy to prevent pulmonary complications after abdominal surgery - A systematic review

Division of Intensive Care, Geneva University Hospitals, 1211 Geneva 14, Switzerland.
Chest (Impact Factor: 7.48). 01/2007; 130(6):1887-99. DOI: 10.1378/chest.130.6.1887
Source: PubMed


To examine the efficacy of respiratory physiotherapy for prevention of pulmonary complications after abdominal surgery.
We searched in databases and bibliographies for articles in all languages through November 2005. Randomized trials were included if they investigated prophylactic respiratory physiotherapy and pulmonary outcomes, and if the follow-up was at least 2 days. Efficacy data were expressed as risk differences (RDs) and number needed to treat (NNT), with 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Thirty-five trials tested respiratory physiotherapy treatments. Of 13 trials with a "no intervention" control group, 9 studies (n = 883) did not report on significant differences, and 4 studies (n = 528) did: in 1 study, the incidence of pneumonia was decreased from 37.3 to 13.7% with deep breathing, directed cough, and postural drainage (RD, 23.6%; 95% CI, 7 to 40%; NNT, 4.3; 95% CI, 2.5 to 14); in 1 study, the incidence of atelectasis was decreased from 39 to 15% with deep breathing and directed cough (RD, 24%; 95% CI, 5 to 43%; NNT, 4.2; 95% CI, 2.4 to 18); in 1 study, the incidence of atelectasis was decreased from 77 to 59% with deep breathing, directed cough, and postural drainage (RD, 18%; 95% CI, 5 to 31%; NNT, 5.6; 95% CI, 3.3 to 19); in 1 study, the incidence of unspecified pulmonary complications was decreased from 47.7% to 21.4 to 22.2% with intermittent positive pressure breathing, or incentive spirometry, or deep breathing with directed cough (RD, 25.5 to 26.3%; NNT, 3.8 to 3.9). Twenty-two trials (n = 2,734) compared physiotherapy treatments without no intervention control subjects; no conclusions could be drawn.
There are only a few trials that support the usefulness of prophylactic respiratory physiotherapy. The routine use of respiratory physiotherapy after abdominal surgery does not seem to be justified.

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    • "The most common respiratory complications are atelectasis, respiratory infections, wheezing and respiratory failure (2,3,7,8,13,15). The main cause of postoperative pulmonary complications is a significant reduction in the forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1) and in the forced vital capacity (FVC) to approximately 65-70% of the predicted value (1-3,11,12). Nevertheless, inferior abdominal surgeries are associated with a reduction of only 10 to 15% of the preoperative functional residual capacity (FRC), whereas in superior abdominal surgeries, thoracotomy and pulmonary resection, the expected reduction is approximately 35% (3,16). "
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE: Patients undergoing abdominal surgery are at risk for pulmonary complications. The principal cause of postoperative pulmonary complications is a significant reduction in pulmonary volumes (FEV1 and FVC) to approximately 65-70% of the predicted value. Another frequent occurrence after abdominal surgery is increased intra-abdominal pressure. The aim of this study was to correlate changes in pulmonary volumes with the values of intra-abdominal pressure after abdominal surgery, according to the surgical incision in the abdomen (superior or inferior). METHODS: We prospectively evaluated 60 patients who underwent elective open abdominal surgery with a surgical time greater than 240 minutes. Patients were evaluated before surgery and on the 3rd postoperative day. Spirometry was assessed by maximal respiratory maneuvers and flow-volume curves. Intra-abdominal pressure was measured in the postoperative period using the bladder technique. RESULTS: The mean age of the patients was 56±13 years, and 41.6% 25 were female; 50 patients (83.3%) had malignant disease. The patients were divided into two groups according to the surgical incision (superior or inferior). The lung volumes in the preoperative period showed no abnormalities. After surgery, there was a significant reduction in both FEV1 (1.6±0.6 L) and FVC (2.0±0.7 L) with maintenance of FEV1/FVC of 0.8±0.2 in both groups. The maximum intra-abdominal pressure values were similar (p = 0.59) for the two groups. There was no association between pulmonary volumes and intra-abdominal pressure measured in any of the groups analyzed. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that superior and inferior abdominal surgery determines hypoventilation, unrelated to increased intra-abdominal pressure. Patients at high risk of pulmonary complications should receive respiratory care even if undergoing inferior abdominal surgery.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2014 · Clinics (São Paulo, Brazil)
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    • "Respiratory physiotherapy may be unnecessary in patients at low PPC risk [6], leading to interest in risk prediction to target physiotherapy resources towards individuals identified at high PPC risk. Numerous independent PPC risk factors have been identified [5] [7] [8] and several risk prediction models have been described within the literature [1,5,9–12]. "
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: (1) To determine the ability of the Melbourne risk prediction tool to predict a pulmonary complication as defined by the Melbourne Group Scale in a medically defined high-risk upper abdominal surgery population during the postoperative period; (2) to identify the incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications; and (3) to examine the risk factors for postoperative pulmonary complications in this high-risk population. DESIGN: Observational cohort study. SETTING: Tertiary Australian referral centre. PARTICIPANTS AND METHODS: 50 individuals who underwent medically defined high-risk upper abdominal surgery. Presence of postoperative pulmonary complications was screened daily for seven days using the Melbourne Group Scale (Version 2). Postoperative pulmonary risk prediction was calculated according to the Melbourne risk prediction tool. OUTCOME MEASURES: (1) Melbourne risk prediction tool; and (2) the incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications. RESULTS: Sixty-six percent (33/50) underwent hepatobiliary or upper gastrointestinal surgery. Mean (SD) anaesthetic duration was 377.8 (165.5) minutes. The risk prediction tool classified 84% (42/50) as high risk. Overall postoperative pulmonary complication incidence was 42% (21/50). The tool was 91% sensitive and 21% specific with a 50% chance of correct classification. CONCLUSION: This is the first study to externally validate the Melbourne risk prediction tool in an independent medically defined high-risk population. There was a higher incidence of pulmonary complications postoperatively observed compared to that previously reported. Results demonstrated poor validity of the tool in a population already defined medically as high risk and when applied postoperatively. This observational study has identified several important points to consider in future trials.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Physiotherapy
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    • "Strategies to prevent postoperative pulmonary complications remain poorly defined. A recent systematic review questioned the utility of routine postoperative respiratory physiotherapy following upper abdominal surgery [7]. In contrast, other evidence suggests that postoperative mobilisation may reduce the incidence of pulmonary complications [8], although the quantity and intensity of mobilisation to achieve this outcome is unknown. "

    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Physiotherapy
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