Dyszkiewicz W. Pawlak K. Gasiorowski L.
Department of Thoracic Surgery, K. Marcinkowski University of Medical Sciences, Ul. Szamarzewskiego 62, Poznan, Poland.
Early post-pneumonectomy complications in the elderly.
European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery. 17(3):246-50, 2000 Mar.
Local Messages
OBJECTIVE: The surgical treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in elderly patients presents a serious challenge to thoracic surgeons. As there is considerable divergence of opinion about both the mortality and morbidity rates, it is important to set guidelines for proper patient selection. METHODS: Early post-operative complications in 42 patients aged over 70 years who had undergone pneumonectomy because of NSCLC (Group I) were analyzed. The control group (Group II) consisted of 48 patients, also aged over 70 years, but who had undergone lobectomy or wedge resections. In both groups, the pre-operative conditions and 30-day morbidity and mortality were evaluated. RESULTS: Postoperative complications occurred significantly more frequently in pneumonectomy patients (78.5%) than in Group II (58%). Transient or long-standing arrhythmias were noted in 20 patients (47.6%) from Group I and in 17 (35.4%) from Group II. Pulmonary complications occurred in 17 patients (40.4%)!
from Group I and 16 (33.3%) from Group II. The most important factors contributing to post-operative complications in pneumonectomy patients were performance status (WHO), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and elevated level of blood urea nitrogen (BUN). The highest impact on early mortality in pneumonectomy patients was exerted by COPD, arterial hypertension, formation of broncho-pleural fistula (BPF), the need for re-thoracotomy and high level of BUN. CONCLUSIONS: (1) Pneumonectomy in patients over the age of 70 carries a considerable risk of severe post-operative complications and death, when compared to patients with less extensive pulmonary resections. (2) Elderly patients with impaired Performance Status (WHO 2 or more) and co-existing arterial hypertension, COPD and elevated level of BUN should be considered for pneumonectomy very carefully and cautiously.