Background: Some patients are denied curative pulmonary resection for lung carcinoma because of pulmonary insufficiency. To identify factors that affect postoperative morbidity and mortality, we reviewed 85 consecutive patients (53 men and 32 women) with a preoperative forced expiratory volume in 1 second of less than 1.2 L who underwent pulmonary resection for lung cancer between January 1986 and December 1990.
Methods: Median age was 70 years (range, 49 to 82 years). Sixty patients (71%) had been previously denied operation because of pulmonary insufficiency. Preoperative pulmonary function demonstrated a median preoperative forced expiratory volume in 1 second of 1.0 L (44% of predicted normal; range, 0.5 to 1.2 L) and a diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide of 60% of predicted normal (range, 22% to 104%).
Results: Pneumonectomy was done in 6 patients (7.1%), bilobectomy in 6 (7.1%), lobectomy in 38 (44.7%), segmentectomy in 12 (14.1%), and wedge excision in 29 (27.1%). The median predicted postoperative forced expiratory volume in 1 second was 0.83 L (34% of predicted normal; range, 0.45 to 1.14 L), and the median predicted postoperative diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide was 48% of predicted normal (range, 19% to 87%). Seventy-two patients (85%) received postoperative epidural analgesia. Median hospitalization was 15 days (range, 5 to 66 days). Operative mortality was 2.4%, and complications occurred in 49%. We did not identify any factors that predicted postoperative morbidity and mortality. Median follow-up was 3.2 years (range, 0.2 to 9 years). Seven patients (8%) required supplemental home oxygen. A predicted postoperative percent forced expiratory volume in 1 second less than 43% correlated with the need for home oxygen (p < 0.05). Overall 5-year survival was 44.0%. Survival for stage I cancer was 54.2%; stage II, 33.1%; and stage IIIa, 21.3%.
Conclusions: We conclude that some patients with lung cancer and compromised pulmonary function can safely undergo pulmonary resection if selected appropriately.