In Australia there are an average of 7260 surgeries performed each day.ย Whilst often essential the all surgeries come with their inherent risk. One of the most common risks associated with undergoing surgery is the risk of a pneumonia or lung collapse after surgery which can cause significant harm and delays in hospital discharge.

Why do we get lung collapse and pneumonias after surgery?

  • Our muscles are often put to sleep which makes them weak and ineffective
  • The pain after surgery prevent us taking deep breathes and coughing out phlegm
  • Occasionally parts of the lung are purposefully deflated during the operation and can struggle to re-open

Who is at greatest risk?

  • Heart, lung and abdominal surgery
  • Surgery that goes for > 3 hours
  • Surgery that requires a stay in intensive care
  • Elderly people
  • People with co-morbidities such as lung disease

What can breathing training do?

  • Strengthening the breathing muscles in the weeks leading up to the surgery reduces the chance of your breathing muscles being too weak to function
  • Breathing training is very easy to perform and can be done whilst watching tv!
  • Breathing training is not to be confused with incentive spirometry (see below).
  • Incentive spirometrydoes not strengthen your lungs and decrease your chance of lung collapse and pneumonia, it only acts as a reminder to breathe deeply.