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J Saudi Heart Assoc. 2011 Jan;23(1):23-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jsha.2010.10.004. Epub 2010 Oct 29.

Can lung volumes and capacities be used as an outcome measure for phrenic nerve recovery after cardiac surgeries?

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  • 1King Saud University, College of Applied Medical Sciences, Rehabilitation Health Sciences Department, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Phrenic nerve is the main nerve drive to the diaphragm and its injury is a well-known complication following cardiac surgeries. It results in diaphragmatic dysfunction with reduction in lung volumes and capacities. This study aimed to evaluate the objectivity of lung volumes and capacities as an outcome measure for the prognosis of phrenic nerve recovery after cardiac surgeries. In this prospective experimental study, patients were recruited from Cardio-Thoracic Surgery Department, Educational-Hospital of College of Medicine, Cairo University. They were 11 patients with right phrenic nerve injury and 14 patients with left injury. On the basis of receiving low-level laser irradiation, they were divided into irradiated group and non-irradiated group. Measures of phrenic nerve latency, lung volumes and capacities were taken pre and post-operative and at 3-months follow up. After 3 months of low-level laser therapy, the irradiated group showed marked improvement in the phrenic nerve recovery. On the other hand, vital capacity and forced expiratory volume in the first second were the only lung capacity and volume that showed improvement consequent with the recovery of right phrenic nerve (P value <0.001 for both). Furthermore, forced vital capacity was the single lung capacity that showed significant statistical improvement in patients with recovered left phrenic nerve injury (P value <0.001). Study concluded that lung volumes and capacities cannot be used as an objective outcome measure for recovery of phrenic nerve injury after cardiac surgeries.


Diaphragmatic dysfunction; Laser therapy; Lung volumes and capacities; Phrenic nerve injury

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