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Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2006 Feb;29(2):216-20. Epub 2006 Jan 11.

Cost-effectiveness analysis of prophylactic respiratory physiotherapy in pulmonary lobectomy.

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  • 1Section of Thoracic Surgery, Salamanca University Hospital, 37007 Salamanca, Spain.



To evaluate the cost-effectiveness balance of implementing an intensive program of chest physiotherapy in pulmonary lobectomy.



cross-sectional study with historical controls. Cases are 119 patients operated on during a 15-month period of time, after implementation of an intensive chest-physiotherapy program. Controls are 520 patients operated on by the same team before the program started. In these patients, only incentive spirometry was indicated besides routine nursing care. In both series, operative selection criteria and anaesthetic management were similar. Population homogeneity was assessed by comparing age, body mass index (BMI) and estimated postoperative FEV1 (ppoFEV1) of the patients in both series. Selected outcomes were as follows: 30-day mortality, prevalence of respiratory morbidity (atelectasis and pneumonia) and hospital stay. Hospital stay was estimated by Cox regression using age, ppoFEV1, BMI, diagnosis and postoperative morbidity as covariates. Costs were calculated adding chest therapists' salaries and acquisition value of specific training and monitoring devices and its consumable items. Savings from avoided hospitalisation days was discounted.


Prevalence of atelectasis and median hospital stay decreased in physiotherapy group. Cost of the program was 48,447.81 (407.12 per treated patient). An estimated total of 151.75 hospital days was saved in the physiotherapy group. Since daily hospitalisation cost is 590.00 in our centre, 89,532.50 savings was estimated from avoided hospitalisation days.


We have found a significant decrease in the rate of postoperative atelectasis without additional costs. In fact, the program has produced considerable monetary savings.

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