Effects of Deep Breathing Exercises after Coronary Artery Bypass Surgery
Abstract: Deep breathing exercises are widely used in the postoperative care to prevent or reduce pulmonary complications, but no scientific evidence for the efficacy has been found after coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery. The aim of the thesis was to describe postoperative pulmonary function and to evaluate the efficacy of deep breathing exercises performed with or without a blow bottle device for positive expiratory pressure (PEP) 10 cmH2O or an inspiratory resistance-positive expiratory pressure (IR-PEP) mask with an inspiratory pressure of -5 cmH2O and an expiratory pressure of +10 to +15 cmH2O. Patients undergoing CABG were instructed to perform 30 slow deep breaths hourly during daytime for the first four postoperative days. Patient management was similar in the groups, except for the different breathing techniques. Measurements were performed preoperatively, on the fourth postoperative day and four months after surgery. The immediate effect of the deep breathing exercises was examined on the second postoperative day. Pulmonary function was assessed by spirometry, diffusion capacity for carbon monoxide and arterial blood gases. Atelectasis was determined by chest roentgenograms or spiral computed tomography (CT). Lung volumes were markedly reduced on the fourth postoperative day. Four months after surgery the pulmonary function was still significantly reduced. On the second and fourth postoperative day all patients had atelectasis visible on CT. A single session of deep breathing exercises performed with or without a mechanical device caused a significant reduction in atelectasis and an improvement in oxygenation. No major differences between deep breathing performed with or without a blow bottle or IR-PEP-device were found, except for a lesser decrease in total lung capacity in the blow bottle group on the fourth postoperative day. Patients who performed deep breathing exercises after CABG had significantly smaller atelectasis and better pulmonary function on the fourth postoperative day compared to a control group who performed no exercises.
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