Background: Measurements of postoperative spirometric values after pneumonectomy and lobectomy vary considerably, and few researchers have studied the changes in exercise capacity during maximal work after lung resection. The purpose of this study was to describe the postoperative alterations in cardiopulmonary function.
Methods: Ninety-seven consecutive patients with lung malignancy were prospectively examined with maximal exercise test, spirometry, and arterial gas tensions. Fifty-seven patients were reinvestigated 6 months postoperatively.
Results: In patients having lobectomy, forced expiratory volume in 1 second decreased 8%, and exercise capacity, expressed by maximal oxygen uptake and maximal work rate, significantly decreased 13%. In patients having pneumonectomy forced expiratory volume in 1 second significantly decreased 23%, but the loss in lung volume was partly compensated as measured by exercise capacity, which decreased only 16%. Generally patients with the smallest preoperative forced vital capacity had the smallest postoperative deterioration expressed in percentages. We found a weak correlation between alterations in maximal oxygen uptake and lung function after resection.
Conclusions: Lobectomy is associated with only minor deterioration of lung function and exercise capacity. Pneumonectomy causes a decrease in pulmonary volumes to about 75% of the preoperative values, partly compensated in better oxygen uptake, which postoperatively was about 85% of the preoperative values. Alteration in forced expiratory volume in 1 second is a poor predictor of change in exercise capacity after pulmonary resection.