Joseph D. Zibrak, MD; Carl R. O'Donnell, ScD; Keith Marton, MD
Study Objective: To critically assess original studies evaluating the role of preoperative pulmonary function testing in predicting postoperative outcomes.
Design: MEDLINE search of English-language articles from 1966 to 1987 using the following medical subject headings: respiratory function tests, lung, lung diseases, and preoperative care.
Measurements and Main Results: Relevant studies were subdivided by operative site. We included only studies for which we could determine pre- and post-test probabilities of morbidity, mortality, sensitivity, and specificity. Preoperative pulmonary function testing was found to have measureable benefit in predicting outcome in lung resection candidates. In selected patients, split perfusion lung scanning and pulmonary exercise testing appeared to be useful. Confirmation of these reports is necessary before these preoperative tests can be routinely recommended. In studies of upper abdominal surgery, spirometry and arterial blood gas analysis did not consistently have measureable benefit in identifying patients at increased risk for postoperative pneumonia, prolonged hospitalization, and death. Studies of preoperative testing for other patients, including those having coronary artery bypass grafting, lacked adequate data for meaningful analysis.
Conclusions: Preoperative pulmonary function testing helps clinicians to make decisions on management of lung resection candidates. Although many studies of patients before abdominal surgery have focused on the utility of preoperative pulmonary function testing, methodologic difficulties undermine the validity of their conclusions. The impact of testing on care of other preoperative patients is even less clear because of poor study design and insufficient data. Therefore, further investigation is necessary before a consensus can be reached on the role of preoperative pulmonary function testing in evaluating patients before all surgical procedures except lung resection.
Zibrak JD, O'Donnell CR, Marton K. Indications for Pulmonary Function Testing. Ann Intern Med. ;112:763–771. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-112-10-763
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1990;112(10):763-771.
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