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Chest. 1994 Mar;105(3):741-7.

Efficacy of breathing and coughing exercises in the prevention of pulmonary complications after coronary artery surgery.

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  • 1Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australia.


One hundred twenty patients undergoing coronary artery surgery completed a randomized controlled study designed to investigate whether prophylactic chest physiotherapy affected the incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications. Group 1 patients received no preoperative or postoperative chest physiotherapy. Group 2 patients received preoperative education and instruction in breathing and coughing exercises and postoperative supervision and assistance in performing the same. These exercises were supervised by a physiotherapist twice per day on the first 2 postoperative days and once per day on the 3rd and 4th postoperative days. Physiotherapy for group 3 patients was the same as for group 2 patients except that patients were seen by a physiotherapist 4 times per day on the first 2 postoperative days and twice per day on the 3rd and 4th postoperative days. Group 2 and 3 patients were instructed to practice breathing and coughing exercises every hour. Overall, an incidence of clinically significant postoperative pulmonary complications of 7.5 percent was demonstrated. In general, these patients demonstrated lower levels of preoperative pulmonary function and very low early postoperative oxygenation compared with those who did not develop pulmonary complications. There was no indication that the incidence or severity of fever, hypoxemia, chest roentgenologic abnormalities or clinically significant postoperative pulmonary complications was different between groups. These results suggest that the necessity for prophylactic chest physiotherapy after routine coronary artery surgery should be reviewed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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