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Fast-track rehabilitation for lung cancer lobectomy: a five-year experience

European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery
Oxford University Press
Publication Date
  • Fast-Track Rehabilitation
  • Enhanced Recovery After Surgery
  • Medicine


Objective: Fast-track rehabilitation is a group of simple measures that reduces morbidity, postoperative complication and accelerates postoperative rehabilitation reducing hospital stay. It can be applied to lung cancer lobectomy. Fast-track rehabilitation cornerstones are: minimally invasive surgical techniques using video-assisted and muscle sparring incisions, normovolemia, normothermia, good oxygenation, euglicemia, no unnecessary antibiotics, epidural patient-controlled analgesia, systemic opiods-free analgesia, early ambulation and oral feeding. Our objective is to describe a five-year experience with fast-track rehabilitation for lung cancer lobectomy. Patients and methods: A retrospective non-controlled study including 109 consecutive patients submitted to fast-track rehabilitation in the postoperative care of lung cancer lobectomy was performed. Only collaborative patients who could receive double-lumen intubation, epidural. catheters with patient-controlled analgesia, who had Karnofsky index of 100, previous normal feeding and ambulation, absence of morbid obesity, diabetes or asthma, were eligible. Postoperative oral feeding and aggressive ambulation started as soon as possible. Results: Immediate postoperative extubation even in the operation room was possible in 107 patients and oral feeding and ambulation were possible before the first hour in 101 patients. Six patients could not receive early oral feeding or ambulate due to hypnosis secondary to preoperative long effect benzodiazepines. Two patients could not ambulate immediately due to epidural catheter misplacement with important postoperative pain. Ninety-nine discharges occurred at the second postoperative day, four of them with a chest tube connected to a Heimlich valve due to air teak. No complication of early feeding and ambulation was observed. Postoperative hypnosis due to long duration benzodiazepines or pain does not allow early oral feeding or ambulation. Avoiding long duration preoperative benzodiazepines, immediate postoperative extubation, regional thoracic PCA and early oral feeding and ambulation were related to a lesser frequency of complication and a shorter hospital stay. Conclusion: Fast-track rehabilitation for lung cancer lobectomies can be safety performed in a selected group of patients if a motivated multidisciplinary group of professionals is available and seems to reduce postoperative complication and hospital stay. (C) 2009 European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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