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Does the addition of deep breathing exercises to physiotherapy-directed early mobilisation alter patient outcomes following high-risk open upper abdominal surgery? Cluster randomised controlled trial

Abstract

Objective

To investigate whether the inclusion of deep breathing exercises in physiotherapy-directed early mobilisation confers any additional benefit in reducing postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) when patients are treated once daily after elective open upper abdominal surgery. This study also compared postoperative outcomes following early and delayed mobilisation.

Design

Cluster randomised controlled trial.

Setting

Single-centre study in a teaching hospital.

Participants

Eighty-six high-risk patients undergoing elective open upper abdominal surgery.

Intervention

Three groups: early mobilisation (Group A), early mobilisation plus breathing exercises (Group B), and delayed mobilisation (mobilised from third postoperative day) plus breathing exercises (Group C).

Main outcomes

PPCs and postoperative outcomes [number of days until discharge from physiotherapy, physiotherapy input and length of stay (LOS)].

Results

There was no significant difference in PPCs between Groups A and B. The LOS for Group A {mean 10.7 [standard deviation (SD) 5.0] days} was significantly shorter than the LOS for Groups B [mean 16.7 (SD 9.7) days] and C [mean 15.2 (SD 9.8) days; P=0.036]. The greatest difference was between Groups A and B (mean difference −5.93, 95% confidence interval −10.22 to −1.65; P=0.008). Group C had fewer smokers (26%) and patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (0%) compared with Group B (53% and 14%, respectively). This may have led to fewer PPCs in Group C, but the difference was not significant. Despite Group C having fewer PPCs and less physiotherapy input, the number of days until discharge from physiotherapy and LOS were similar to Group B.

Conclusions

The addition of deep breathing exercises to physiotherapy-directed early mobilisation did not further reduce PPCs compared with mobility alone. PPCs can be reduced with once-daily physiotherapy if the patients are mobilised to a moderate level of exertion. Delayed mobilisation tended to increase physiotherapy input and the number of days until discharge from physiotherapy compared with early mobilisation.

Cite this article

Does the addition of deep breathing exercises to physiotherapy-directed early mobilisation alter patient outcomes following high-risk open upper abdominal surgery? Cluster randomised controlled trial.Physiotherapy - September 2013 (Vol. 99, Issue 3, Pages 187-193, DOI: 10.1016/j.physio.2012.09.006)

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