Introduction: The aim of this pilot study was to assess the effect of pre-operative inspiratory muscle training (IMT) on respiratory variables in patients undergoing major abdominal surgery.
Patients and methods: Respiratory muscle strength (maximum inspiratory [MIP] and expiratory [MEP] mouth pressure) and pulmonary functions were measured at least 2 weeks before surgery in 80 patients awaiting major abdominal surgery. Patients were then allocated randomly to one of four groups (Group A, control; Group B, deep breathing exercises; Group C, incentive spirometry; Group D, specific IMT). Patients in groups B, C and D were asked to train twice daily, each session lasting 15 min, for at least 2 weeks up to the day before surgery. Outcome measurements were made immediately pre-operatively and postoperatively.
Results: In groups A, B and C, MIP did not increase from baseline to pre-operative assessments. In group D, MIP increased from 51.5 cmH(2)O (median) pre-training to 68.5 cmH(2)O (median) post-training pre-operatively (P < 0.01). Postoperatively, groups A, B and C showed a fall in MIP from baseline (P < 0.01, P < 0.01) and P = 0.06, respectively). No such significant reduction in postoperative MIP was seen in group D (P = 0.36).
Conclusions: Pre-operative specific IMT improves MIP pre-operatively and preserves it postoperatively. Further studies are required to establish if this is associated with reduced pulmonary complications.