Early ambulation after lung surgery: How early?

Dr. Khandhar of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia and early ambulation after lung surgery

One of the critical benchmarks of recovery from thoracic surgery is early ambulation (walking) after surgery – but “How early?” is a frequently encountered question.

Now, Dr. Sandeep Khandhar, thoracic surgeon of Inova Fairfax Hospital in Falls Church, Virginia aims to answer this question.

The answer, Dr. Khandhar reports is : Within 1 hour of extubation.

In a recent article by Zosia Chustecka for Medscape, she summarizes Dr. Khandhar’s recent study on post-operative ambulation in thoracic patients.  Dr. Khandhar presented these findings at the 2013 World Conference on Lung Cancer this month.

In this study, involving 750 patients who were given a goal of walking 250 feet within an hour after extubation.  In this 3 year project, only 10% of patients were unable to  walk within one hour after extubation.  60% of patients were able to walk the full distance of 250 feet within an hour of extubation.

In these patients, early mobilization was associated with a significant reduction in length of stay: from 3 to 5 days down to just 1.6 days, as well as a decreased need for intravenous narcotics post-operatively.

We have contacted Dr. Khandhar for additional information about this study.

Chustecka, Z. (2013). Lung Cancer Patients Up and Walking Within Hour of Surgery.  Medscape, 28 October 2013.    [Medscape requires a free subscription to review articles and news].

Author: K Eckland

World of Thoracic Surgery is a blog about the work, research, and practices of thoracic surgeons around the world. It includes case studies, [sometimes] dry research, interviews with thoracic surgeons along with patient perspectives, and feedback.

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