Prevent deterioration and long-term ventilation: intensive care following thoracic surgery


Purpose of review: Patients with indication for lung surgery besides the pulmonary pathology often suffer from independent comorbidities affecting several other organ systems. Preventing patients from harmful complications due to decompensation of underlying organ insufficiencies perioperatively is pivotal. This review draws attention to the peri- and postoperative responsibility of the anaesthetist and intensivist to prevent patients undergoing lung surgery deterioration.

Recent findings: During the last decades we had to accept that 'traditional' intensive care medicine implying deep sedation, controlled ventilation, liberal fluid therapy, and broad-spectrum antimicrobial therapy because of several side-effects resulted in prolongation of hospital length of stay and a decline in quality of life. Modern therapy therefore should focus on the convalescence of the patient and earliest possible reintegration in the 'life-before.' Avoidance of sedative and anticholinergic drugs, early extubation, prophylactic noninvasive ventilation and high-flow nasal oxygen therapy, early mobilization, well-adjusted fluid balance and reasonable use of antibiotics are the keystones of success.

Summary: A perioperative interprofessional approach and a change in paradigms are the prerequisites to improve outcome and provide treatment for elder and comorbid patients with an indication for thoracic surgery.

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