BACKGROUND - The prevention of major pulmonary events (MPEs) after pneumonectomy may minimize postoperative mortality rates. The purpose of this study was to identify preoperative and perioperative factors associated with the development of MPEs after pneumonectomy to help predict which patients are at increased risk for MPEs.
METHODS - We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of all patients (n = 261) who underwent pneumonectomies between January 1990 and May 1999. We analyzed preoperative and perioperative risk factors, the primary end point of an MPE and the secondary end points of mortality (in-hospital or 30 days postprocedure), length of stay, and hospital charges. A postoperative MPE included only pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and the American and European Consensus Conference's established criteria. Simple atelectasis that did not progress to pneumonia or a documented aspiration was not included.
RESULTS - Four patients died within 12 hours of operation; the records of the remaining 257 patients were analyzed. An MPE occurred in 33 (12.8%) of 257 patients; 16 (6.2%) of 257 patients died. A multivariate analysis performed on relevant variables showed that only the timing of smoking cessation (1 month or sooner before operation) was a significant predictor of an MPE. Age, side of pneumonectomy, and the use of preoperative chemotherapy or combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy were not significant predictors of an MPE. An MPE significantly increased the mortality rate 2.1% versus 39.3%, p < 0.001).
CONCLUSIONS - Mortality after pneumonectomy increased significantly with the development of an MPE. Patients who continue to smoke within 1 month of operation are at an increased risk for developing an MPE. Interventions to minimize MPEs may minimize the mortality rate after pneumonectomy.