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J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2011 Nov-Dec;31(6):386-91. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0b013e3182343bc8.

Sequential cognitive skills in emphysema patients following lung volume reduction surgery: a 2-year longitudinal study.

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National Jewish Health, Denver, CO 80206, USA.



This study compared visuomotor speed and cognitive flexibility in emphysema patients treated with either standard multidisciplinary medical therapy (MT) or lung volume reduction surgery (LVRS), followed over a 2-year period.


MT patients (n = 544) and 542 LVRS patients completed the Trail Making Test (TMT) Parts A and B prior to randomization (baseline). Testing was repeated at 1 and 2 years.


There were no differences on scores for TMT Parts A and B between the LVRS and MT groups at baseline or at years 1 and 2. No significant difference between MT and LVRS was noted in terms of overall change in TMT Parts A and B over 2 years. The MT group had a significant improvement on TMT Part A at each followup time compared with baseline (P < .03) but the LVRS group did not. Both the MT and LVRS groups had a significant decline in performance (increase in time to completion) on TMT Part B when comparing year 1 with baseline (P < .0001).


Emphysema patients who received LVRS or MT as treatment performed similarly on measures of visuomotor speed and flexibility at baseline and 1- and 2-year followup. Both groups showed improvement on visuomotor speed during the first year yet overall cognitive flexibility declined. By the second year neither group had any significant change from baseline. These findings suggest that improvement on visuomotor speed and flexibility, observed in a previous 6-month study of LVRS subjects, was not sustained at 1- and 2-year followup.

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