Pathogenesis and management of respiratory insufficiency following pulmonary resection

Scott K. Alpard, Alexander G. Duarte, Akhil Bidani, Joseph B. Zwischenberger

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The underlying principle of the surgical treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is complete removal of the local/regional disease within the thorax. Pulmonary resection should be as conservative as possible without compromising the adequacy of tumor removal. A multitude of factors influence the incidence and severity of complications following pulmonary resection including the pre-operative physical and psychological status of the patient, the pathologic process requiring resection, the physiologic impact of the procedure, and the addition of pre-operative or postoperative adjuvant therapy. The insidious onset of interstitial changes on chest X-ray (CXR) 1 to 2 days after pulmonary resection forewarns of respiratory distress; however, the pathophysiology of adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) with progression to respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation and advanced critical care often unfolds. Management of patients with severe respiratory failure remains primarily supportive. 'Good critical care' is the mainstay of therapy: this includes gentle mechanical ventilation to avoid ventilator-induced barotrauma and over-extension of remaining functional alveoli, diuresis, infection identification and management, and nutritional support. New therapeutic strategies that may impact on outcomes in the adult population include pressure-limited ventilation (permissive hypercapnia), inverse ratio ventilation, high-frequency jet ventilation, high-frequency oscillatory ventilation, intratracheal pulmonary ventilation, and prone position ventilation. In addition, alternative therapies such as partial liquid ventilation, inhaled nitric oxide, and extracorporeal techniques including extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), extracorporeal carbon dioxide removal (ECCO2R), intravascular oxygenation (IVOX), and arteriovenous carbon dioxide removal (AVCO2R), provide additional modalities. A component of some or all of these strategies is finding a role in clinical practice. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-196
Number of pages14
JournalSeminars in Surgical Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2000


  • Adult respiratory distress syndrome
  • Barotrauma
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation
  • High-frequency ventilation
  • Lung neoplasms
  • Membrane oxygenators
  • Morbidity
  • Mortality
  • Nitric oxide
  • Non-small-cell lung carcinoma
  • Pneumonectomy
  • Postoperative complications
  • Preoperative care
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Respiratory insufficiency
  • Survival rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology


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