Inspiratory training and immediate lung recovery after resective pulmonary surgery: A randomized clinical trial

Sabina Lähteenmäki, Thanos Sioris, Heidi Mahrberg, Irina Rinta-Kiikka, Jari Laurikka

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Background: Prompt and uneventful recovery after resective pulmonary surgery benefits patients by decreasing length and total costs of hospital stay. Postoperative physiotherapy has been shown to be advantageous for patient recovery in several studies and lately inspiratory muscle training (IMT) physiotherapy has been used also in thoracic patients. This randomized controlled trial intended to evaluate whether IMT is an efficient and feasible method of physiotherapy compared to water bottle positive expiratory physiotherapy (PEP) immediately after lung resections. Methods: Forty-two patients were randomly allocated into two intervention groups: water bottle PEP (n=20) and IMT group (n=22). Patients were given physiotherapeutic guidance once a day and patients were also instructed to do independent exercises. Measurements of pulmonary function were compared between the treatment groups according to intention to treat by using two-way repeated measures analysis of variances at three time points (preoperative, first postoperative day, and second postoperative day). Walking distance was measured at first and second postoperative day and similarly, evaluation of postoperative air leak during exercises was performed. Physiotherapy was modified or temporarily interrupted, if necessary, because of the air leak. Results: Postoperative pulmonary function tests were equal between the intervention groups. Air leak was relatively common after lung resections: 31% of all patients had mild or moderate/severe air leak at first postoperative day and 14% of all patients had mild to severe air leak at second postoperative day respectively. There were no statistically significant differences in occurrence of air leak between intervention groups, but water resistance had to be reduced or physiotherapy discontinued significantly more often among the water bottle PEP group patients (P=0.01). Walking distance improved slightly faster in the IMT group between the first and the second postoperative day when compared to the water bottle PEP group, but the difference between the groups was not statistically significant. Conclusions: IMT physiotherapy is equally effective to water bottle PEP training in postoperative physiotherapy after lung resection surgery evaluated with pulmonary function tests and walking distance. In addition, IMT physiotherapy is safe and more feasible form of physiotherapy during postoperative air leak compared to water bottle PEP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6701-6711
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Thoracic Disease
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Air leak
  • Postoperative care
  • Postoperative complication
  • Pulmonary

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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