Pre-Operative Optimization

Early ambulation after lung surgery: How early?

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].

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