Background: Because of the critical importance of the first postoperative week in the development of respiratory complications after cardiac surgery, the mechanical properties of the respiratory system in this period were followed up systematically. Methods: The input impedance of the respiratory system (Zrs) was measured during spontaneous breathing in patients (n = 35) undergoing cardiac surgery on the day before surgery to establish the baseline, and for six days thereafter. The airway resistance was inferred from the average of the resistive component of Zrs, while the changes in respiratory elastance were assessed from the imaginary part of Zrs by model fitting. An assessment was made of the impact on the postoperative changes of factors characteristic of the patients (gender, age, smoking, and obesity) or the surgery duration and the need or not for a cardiopulmonary bypass. Results: Airway resistance increased immediately after extubation (peak rise on day 1, evening: 48 ± 10%) and subsequently gradually decreased to the initial level, the recovery proving prolonged in obese patients. Postoperative elevation in elastance peaked later (day 2, evening: 83 ± 14%), lasted longer, and was affected by both cardiopulmonary bypass (p < 0.05) and obesity (p < 0.005). Conclusions: These findings demonstrate the need for particular attention in the postoperative management of patients after cardiac surgery in order to reduce the immediate airway symptoms, and to take steps to maintain the lungs open during the critical postoperative days 2 and 3, especially in obese patients and (or) if the surgery involves the use of cardiopulmonary bypass.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine