Frequency and mortality of acute lung injury and acute respiratory distress syndrome after pulmonary resection for bronchogenic carcinoma

Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2001 Jul;20(1):30-6, discussion 36-7. doi: 10.1016/s1010-7940(01)00760-6.


Objective: We reviewed the frequency and mortality of acute lung injury (ALI) and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in our population of patients submitted to pulmonary resection for primary bronchogenic carcinoma.

Methods: From January 1993 to December 1999, a total of 1221 patients received pulmonary resection for primary bronchogenic carcinoma. Of these, 27 met the criteria of post-operative ALI/ARDS. There were 24 men and three women with a mean age of 64 years (range 45--79). Pre-operatively, predicted mean of PaO(2), PaCO(2) and %FEV1 were 72 mmHg (57--86), 37 mmHg (33--42) and 80% (37--114), respectively. Associated cardiac risk factors were present in eight patients. Three patients (11%) had pre-operative radiotherapy. Surgical-pathologic staging included 14 patients at Stage I, 8 patients at Stage II, four patients at Stage IIIa and one patient at Stage IIIb.

Results: ALI/ARDS occurred in 2.2% of our operated lung cancer patients. ALI was diagnosed in 10 patients and ARDS in 17 patients. The mean time of presentation following surgery was 4 days (range 1--10) and 6 days (1--13) for ALI and ARDS, respectively. According to the type of operation, the frequency was highest following right pneumonectomy (4.5%), followed by sublobar resection (3.2%), left pneumonectomy (3%), bilobectomy (2.4%), and lobectomy (2%). The frequency following extended operations was 4%. No differences were found between the ALI/ARDS group and the total population of resected lung cancer patients (control group) with respect to sex, mean age, pre-operative blood gases, %FEV1, surgical--pathologic staging and the use of pre-operative radiotherapy. Four patients with ALI (40%) and 10 patients with ARDS (59%) died. Mortality was highest following right pneumonectomy, extended operations and sublobar resections. Hospital mortality of the total population of operated lung cancer patients in the same period was 2.8% (34 patients). ALI/ARDS accounted for 41% of our hospital mortality.

Conclusions: (1) ALI/ARDS is a severe complication following resection for primary bronchogenic carcinoma. (2) We did not detect any significant difference between the ALI/ARDS group and the control group regarding age, pre-operative lung function, staging and pre-operative radiotherapy. (3) ALI/ARDS is associated with high mortality, the highest mortality rates having been observed following right pneumonectomy and extended operation; it currently represents our leading cause of death following pulmonary resection for lung carcinoma. (4) ALI/ARDS may also occur after sublobar resections with an associated high mortality rate.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Bronchogenic / surgery*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Postoperative Complications / mortality
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Distress Syndrome / mortality
  • Retrospective Studies