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Investigation of the immediate pre-operative physical capacity of patients scheduled for elective abdominal surgery using the 6-minute walk test

Abstract

Objectives

To evaluate the effects of repetition of the 6-minute walk test in patients scheduled to undergo abdominal surgery within the next 48 hours, and to verify the physical capacity of these subjects before surgery.

Design

Cross-sectional study.

Setting

University teaching hospital.

Participants

Forty-two patients scheduled for elective abdominal surgery within the next 48 hours.

Outcome measures

Distance walked in the 6-minute walk test, heart rate, peripheral oxygen saturation, dyspnoea and leg fatigue.

Results

Thirty-one patients (74%) were able to walk for a longer distance when the test was repeated. In these subjects, the mean increase in distance walked was 35.4 [standard deviation (SD) 19.9] m. Heart rate, dyspnoea and leg fatigue increased significantly over time on both tests (P < 0.05). The mean heart rate at the end of the sixth minute was significantly higher on the second test (P = 0.022). Peripheral oxygen saturation remained above 90% in both tests. The furthest distance walked was, on average, 461.3 (SD 89.7) m. This value was significantly lower than that predicted for the sample (P < 0.001).

Conclusion

Patients scheduled to undergo abdominal surgery were able to walk further when they performed a second 6-minute walk test. Moreover, they showed reduced physical ability before surgery. These findings suggest that repetition of the 6-minute walk test may increase the accuracy of the distance walked, which is useful for studies assessing the physical capacity of patients undergoing abdominal surgery.

Cite this article

Investigation of the immediate pre-operative physical capacity of patients scheduled for elective abdominal surgery using the 6-minute walk test.

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