Pre-Op Physical Therapy May Cut Pulmonary Complications

Patients undergoing elective upper abdominal surgery may benefit from breathing exercise training
Patients undergoing elective upper abdominal surgery may benefit from breathing exercise training

HealthDay News — A 30-minute preoperative physical therapy session focused on breathing exercises is associated with a reduced incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) among patients undergoing upper abdominal surgery, according to a study published online January 24 in The BMJ.

Ianthe Boden, from Launceston General Hospital in Australia, and colleagues assessed the efficacy of a single 30-minute preoperative physical therapy session (with education and breathing exercise training) to reduce PPCs after upper abdominal surgery. The study included 441 adults aged 18 years or older who were within 6 weeks of elective major open upper abdominal surgery. They were randomized to receive an informational booklet or undergo the physical therapy session. 

Related Articles

The researchers found that for the intervention group, the incidence of PPCs within 14 postoperative hospital days, including hospital-acquired pneumonia, was halved (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.48; P=0.001) compared with the control group. The absolute risk reduction was 15%, with the number needed to treat of 7. There were no significant differences in length of hospital stay, utilization of intensive care unit services, and hospital costs.

"In a general population of patients listed for elective upper abdominal surgery, a 30-minute preoperative [physical therapy] session provided within existing hospital multidisciplinary preadmission clinics halves the incidence of PPCs and specifically hospital-acquired pneumonia," the authors write. "Further research is required to investigate benefits to mortality and length of stay."

Abstract/Full Text