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Anesthetic considerations in patients with previous thoracic surgery

Kozian, Alf*; Schilling, T.; Strang, C.; Hachenberg, T.

Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology: February 2006 - Volume 19 - Issue 1 - p 26-33
doi: 10.1097/
Thoracic anaesthesia

Purpose of the review This review presents an overview of the different problems and challenges after thoracic surgery. It covers the pathophysiological changes that may occur regularly in the early and late period following surgery. In addition, surgical complications with anesthesiological implications for diagnosis, treatment and prevention are discussed, and consequences for anesthesia in further major and thoracic surgical procedures are shown.

Recent findings During the last decade, complications in the early period following surgery after thoracotomy have increasingly moved into the focus caused by their high morbidity and mortality. These problems, such as hemorrhagia and bronchopleural fistulas, are important because they call for a prompt revision or even an emergency operation. The therapy of acute bleeding follows general anesthesiological guidelines whereas the bronchopleural fistula demands methods to prevent aspiration pneumonia as a first priority. In the late period following surgery, typical cardiac and pulmonary modifications can be described that persist and have anesthesiological implications in the case of further surgery. Recent literature, however, lacks clear recommendations regarding anesthesiological management and practice for these cases.

Summary Current literature presents no general recommendations on how to manage patients after recent thoracic surgery. Therefore it is necessary to find an individual strategy to handle possible complications and well known pathophysiological changes. Knowledge and understanding of the etiology, the pathophysiology and the risk factors of the perioperative period, allows prevention and target intervention aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality following surgery.

Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Magdeburg, Germany

Correspondence to Alf Kozian MD, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Otto-von-Guericke-University, Leipziger Str. 44, D-39120 Magdeburg, Germany. Tel: +49 0391 6713 500; fax: +49 0391 6713 501; E-mail:

© 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.