Predictors of atelectasis after pulmonary lobectomy

Surg Today. 2008;38(11):987-92. doi: 10.1007/s00595-008-3767-x. Epub 2008 Oct 29.


Purpose: To define the incidence of and factors predisposing to postlobectomy atelectasis (PLA).

Methods: The subjects were 412 patients who underwent pulmonary lobectomy at our hospital between January 2004 and April 2007. This study was performed as a retrospective analysis of our prospective database. Postlobectomy atelectasis was defined as ipsilateral opacification of the involved lobe or segment with an ipsilateral shift of the mediastinum on chest radiograph, requiring bronchoscopy.

Results: Postlobectomy atelectasis developed in 27 patients (6.6%), accounting for 29% of all postoperative pulmonary complications. There were no significant differences between the PLA and no-PLA groups in age, sex, American Society of Anesthesiology performance status, cardiovascular comorbidity, or operation time. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was the only preoperative variable predictive of PLA (P<0.05). Right upper lobectomy (RUL), either alone or in combination with right middle lobectomy, was associated with a significantly higher incidence of PLA than any other type of resection (P<0.05).

Conclusions: Postlobectomy atelectasis is an important postoperative complication. Patients with COPD and those undergoing RUL are at higher risk of this complication. Although often isolated, PLA is associated with longer hospital stay.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Causality
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonectomy / adverse effects*
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / epidemiology*
  • Pulmonary Atelectasis / etiology
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors