High-frequency chest-wall compression during the 48 hours following thoracic surgery

Respir Care. 2009 Mar;54(3):340-3.


Background: Postoperative pneumonia continues to be a leading cause of mortality and morbidity after thoracic surgery. High-frequency chest-wall compression (HFCWC) is an established therapeutic adjunct for patients with chronic pulmonary disorders that impair bronchopulmonary secretion clearance. We studied the feasibility of applying HFCWC following thoracic surgery.

Methods: Twenty-five consecutive adult patients who underwent a variety of thoracic operations received at least one HFCWC treatment in the first 2 postoperative days, along with routine postoperative care. HFCWC was applied at 12 Hz, for 10 min. Routine hemodynamic and pulse oximetry data were collected before, during, and after HFCWC. We also collected qualitative data on patient tolerance and preference for HFCWC versus percussive chest physiotherapy.

Results: No major adverse events were encountered. Hemodynamic and pulse oximetry values remained stable before, during, and after HFCWC. Eighty-four percent of the subjects reported little or no discomfort during therapy, and the subjects who expressed a preference preferred HFCWC to conventional chest physiotherapy by more than two to one.

Conclusions: HFCWC is a safe, well-tolerated adjunct after thoracic surgery. The observation of hemodynamic stability is especially important, considering that the patients were studied in the early postoperative period, during epidural analgesia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chest Wall Oscillation / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia / prevention & control*
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Safety
  • Thoracic Surgical Procedures*