Objectives: The purpose of our study was to validate the incentive spirometry (IS) as a simple mean to follow pulmonary function at the bedside after lung surgery.
Materials and methods: We studied prospectively 19 patients (16 men, 3 women; mean±SE age, 60±2.8 years) undergoing lobectomy for lung cancer. All the patients had an obstructive pattern with FEV1/FVC below 75%. Lung volumes, including functional residual capacity (FRC) and residual volume (RV), measured using spirometry and the helium dilution technique, and IS were measured preoperatively and postoperatively at days 1, 2, 3, and 8, and at 2 months.
Results: Our results showed that in the postoperative period after lung resection, IS performance was well correlated (R) during the first 8 postoperative days with vital capacity (VC) (R between 0.667 and 0.870) mainly due to the excellent correlation with the inspiratory reserve volume (IRV, R between 0.680 and 0.895) but was poorly correlated with expiratory reserve volume (R below 0.340), RV (R below 0.180), and FRC (R below 0.470).
Conclusions: IS can be used as a simple mean to follow lung function, especially VC and IRV, in the postoperative period in spontaneously breathing patients. IS is noninvasive and can be performed repeatedly at the bedside in the intensive care setting.