A 30-minute preoperative physical therapy session focused on breathing exercises may help reduce the incidence of postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) among patients undergoing upper abdominal surgery, suggests a study published recently in The BMJ.

The study, performed by Ianthe Boden, from Launceston General Hospital in Australia, and colleagues, included 441 adults aged 18 years or older who were scheduled to undergo elective major open upper abdominal surgery within 6 weeks. They were randomized to receive an informational booklet or undergo the physical therapy session. The physical therapy session included education and breathing exercise training, notes a media release from Monthly Prescribing Reference.

Among the intervention group, the physical therapy sessions reduced the incidence of PPCs within 14 postoperative hospital days—including hospital-acquired pneumonia—by half (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.48; P=0.001), compared with the control group. The absolute risk reduction was 15%, with the number needed to treat of 7. There were no significant differences in length of hospital stay, utilization of intensive care unit services, and hospital costs.

“In a general population of patients listed for elective upper abdominal surgery, a 30-minute preoperative [physical therapy] session provided within existing hospital multidisciplinary preadmission clinics halves the incidence of PPCs and specifically hospital-acquired pneumonia,” the authors write. “Further research is required to investigate benefits to mortality and length of stay,” the release continues.

[Source: Monthly Prescribing Reference]