Preoperative exercise training prevents functional decline after lung resection surgery: a randomized, single-blind controlled trial

Clin Rehabil. 2017 Aug;31(8):1057-1067. doi: 10.1177/0269215516684179. Epub 2016 Dec 20.


Objectives: To investigate the effects of a preoperative pulmonary rehabilitation programme in patients with lung cancer undergoing video-assisted thoracic surgery.

Design: Randomized, single-blind controlled trial.

Setting: Teaching hospital.

Subjects: Patients with suspected or confirmed lung cancer undergoing video-assisted thoracic surgery.

Intervention: Participants were randomized to either a prehabilitation group or a control group. Participants in the prehabilitation group underwent a combination of moderate endurance and resistance training plus breathing exercises three to five times per week.

Main measures: The primary outcome of the study was exercise capacity. Secondary outcomes were muscle strength (Senior Fitness Test), health-related quality of life (Short-Form 36) and the postoperative outcomes. Patients were evaluated at baseline (before randomization), presurgery (only the prehabilitation group), after surgery and three months post-operatively.

Results: A total of 40 patients were randomized and 22 finished the study (10 in the prehabilitation group and 12 in the control group). Three patients were lost to follow-up at three months. After the training, there was a statistically significant improvement in exercise tolerance (+397 seconds, p = 0.0001), the physical summary component of the SF-36 (+4.4 points, p = 0.008) and muscle strength ( p < 0.01). There were no significant differences between groups after surgery. However, three months postoperatively, significant differences were found in the mean change of exercise capacity ( p = 0.005), physical summary component ( p = 0.001) and upper and lower body strength ( p = 0.045 and p = 0.002).

Conclusions: A pulmonary rehabilitation programme before video-assisted thoracic surgery seems to improve patients' preoperative condition and may prevent functional decline after surgery. Clinical Registration Number: NCT01963923 (Registration date 10/10/2013).

Keywords: Cancer; exercise programme; preoperative care; pulmonary rehabilitation; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, Teaching
  • Humans
  • Lung Abscess
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lung Neoplasms / rehabilitation*
  • Lung Neoplasms / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Fitness*
  • Pneumonectomy / methods
  • Pneumonectomy / rehabilitation
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control
  • Preoperative Care / methods
  • Quality of Life*
  • Respiratory Function Tests
  • Risk Assessment
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Spain
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / methods
  • Thoracic Surgery, Video-Assisted / rehabilitation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vital Capacity

Associated data