The role of chest physiotherapy in limiting postoperative pulmonary complications and in the recovery of pulmonary function and exercise capacity after lung surgery is still unclear because of the lack of conclusive, well-designed clinical trials. In this article the available literature on these topics is reviewed, and the effects of respiratory physiotherapy, instituted preoperatively or administered after surgery to patients undergoing lung resection, are commented on. The authors conclude that chest physiotherapy improves preoperative exercise capacity; this is a parameter highly predictive of postoperative pulmonary complications. Also physiotherapy administered during the immediate period after lung resection probably decreases frequency of pulmonary complications. Finally, further investigation is required for a better understanding of the effects of long-term chest physiotherapy after hospital discharge in lung resection patients.
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