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The effectiveness of pre- and post-operative rehabilitation for lung cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis on postoperative pulmonary complications and length of hospital stay

Clinical Rehabilitation. 36(2):172-189. 2022 (Epub 2021 Sep 8)
Xu X., Cheung D.S.T., Smith R., Lai A.Y.K., Lin C.C.*


To investigate the effects of rehabilitation either before or after operation for lung cancer on postoperative pulmonary complications and the length of hospital stay.

Data sources
MEDLINE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Web of Science, CINAHL Plus, SPORTDiscus, PsycInfo and Embase were searched from inception until June 2021.

Review methods
Inclusion criteria were patients scheduled to undergo or had undergone operation for lung cancer, randomised controlled trials comparing rehabilitative interventions initiated before hospital discharge to usual care control. Two reviewers independently assessed eligibility, extracted data and risks of bias. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) or standardised mean differences (SMDs) with 95% Confidence Intervals (CI) were estimated using random-effects meta-analyses.

Twenty-three studies were included (12 preoperative, 10 postoperative and 1 perioperative), with 2068 participants. The pooled postoperative pulmonary complication risk and length of hospital stay were reduced after preoperative interventions (OR = 0.32; 95% CI = 0.22, 0.47; I2 = 0.0% and SMD = -1.68 days, 95% CI = -2.23, -1.13; I2 = 77.8%, respectively). Interventions delivered during the immediate postoperative period did not have any significant effects on either postoperative pulmonary complication or length of hospital stay (OR = 0.85; 95% CI = 0.56, 1.29; I2 = 0.0% and SMD = -0.23 days, 95% CI = -1.08, 0.63; I2 = 64.6%, respectively). Meta-regression showed an association between a higher number of supervised sessions and shorter hospital length of stay in preoperative studies (β = -0.17, 95% CI = -0.29, -0.05).

Preoperative rehabilitation is effective in reducing postoperative pulmonary complications and length of hospital stay associated with lung cancer surgery. Short-term postoperative rehabilitation in inpatient settings is probably ineffective.

Key Words: Lung cancer; perioperative care; prehabilitation; rehabilitation; systematic review

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(*Correspondence Author)