Incidence of and risk factors for pulmonary complications after nonthoracic surgery

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2005 Mar 1;171(5):514-7. doi: 10.1164/rccm.200408-1069OC. Epub 2004 Nov 24.


The prediction of postoperative pulmonary complications is an underinvestigated field. We conducted a prospective cohort study (with postoperative pulmonary complications ascertained by an investigator blinded to perioperative variables) to determine the risk factors for pulmonary complications after elective nonthoracic surgery. Of 1,055 consecutive patients attending the Pre-Admission Clinic of a university hospital (mean age 55 years, 50% men, 15% with history of obstructive airways disease), 28 (2.7%) suffered a postoperative pulmonary complication within 7 days of surgery: 13 patients developed respiratory failure requiring ventilatory support, 9 pneumonia, 5 atelectasis requiring bronchoscopic intervention, and 1 pneumothorax requiring intervention. Mean lengths of stay were substantially prolonged for those patients who developed pulmonary complications within 7 days of surgery: 27.9 days versus 4.5 days, p = 0.006. Eight variables were statistically significantly associated with pulmonary complications on bivariate analyses. Multivariate analyses revealed that four were independently associated with increased risk of pulmonary complications: age (odds ratio [OR] 5.9 for age >/= 65 years, p < 0.001), positive cough test (OR 3.8, P = 0.01), perioperative nasogastric tube (OR 7.7, p < 0.001), and duration of anesthesia (OR 3.3 for operations lasting at least 2.5 hours, p = 0.008). Thus, several perioperative factors predict an increased risk for pulmonary complications after elective nonthoracic surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Alberta / epidemiology
  • Anesthesia / statistics & numerical data
  • Cohort Studies
  • Elective Surgical Procedures / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Intubation, Gastrointestinal / statistics & numerical data
  • Lung Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors