• Factors related to risk of perioperative pulmonary complications include site of incision, obstructive lung disease, prolonged anesthesia time, smoking history with productive cough, and obesity. Hypercapnia is a consistent indicator of high risk. There is no difference between spinal and general anesthesia with regard to risk of pulmonary complications. In patients being evaluated for lung resection, high-risk indicators include predicted postoperative forced expiratory volume in one second of less than 1000 mL, hypercapnia, severe dyspnea on exertion, or advanced age when it is associated with advanced cardiopulmonary disease. Newer methods of assessing cardiopulmonary reserve may prove useful in identifying which patients with one or more of these risk factors are suitable operative candidates. Prevention of postoperative complications in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients should begin in the preoperative period with discontinuation of smoking at least eight weeks before surgery and vigorous pulmonary toilet in the 48 to 72 hours before surgery. Prophylactic lung expansion maneuvers can be effective in decreasing the incidence of postoperative atelectasis in high-risk patients undergoing high-risk operations.
(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:2120-2127)