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Maintaining Airway Pressure Benefits Post-Op Patients

Last Updated: May 15, 2009.

Maintaining positive airway pressure in patients after cardiac surgery can improve arterial oxygenation and reduce pulmonary complications, according to a study published in the May issue of Chest.

FRIDAY, May 15 (HealthDay News) -- Maintaining positive airway pressure in patients after cardiac surgery can improve arterial oxygenation and reduce pulmonary complications, according to a study published in the May issue of Chest.

Alexander Zarbock, M.D., of the University of Muenster in Germany, and colleagues randomized 500 patients receiving elective cardiac surgery to receive post-operatively either 10 minutes of nasal continuous positive airway pressure (nCPAP) at 10 cm H2O every four hours (intervention group) or prophylactic nCPAP at an airway pressure of 10 cm H2O for at least six hours (control group).

The researchers found that the group receiving prophylactic nCPAP had significantly improved arterial oxygenation without alteration of mean blood pressure or heart rate. There was less incidence of hypoxemia and pneumonia and a lower reintubation rate in the intervention group compared to the control group (12 of 232 patients versus 25 of 236 patients). In addition, the authors note that readmission to intensive or intermediate care units was lower in the intervention group (seven of 232 patients versus 14 of 236 patients).

"The long-term administration of prophylactic nCPAP following cardiac surgery improved arterial oxygenation, reduced the incidence of pulmonary complications, including pneumonia and reintubation rate, and reduced readmission rate to intensive or intermediate care units. Thus, noninvasive respiratory support with nCPAP is a useful tool to reduce pulmonary morbidity following elective cardiac surgery," the authors conclude.

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