Surgery is the cornerstone of treatment for resectable tumours of the oesophagus. Recent advances in surgical techniques and anaesthesiology have led to a substantial decrease in mortality and morbidity. Respiratory complications affect about 30% of patients after oesophagectomy and 80% of these complications occur within the first five days. Respiratory complications include sputum retention, pneumonia and ARDS. They are the major cause of morbidity and mortality after oesophageal resection and numerous studies have identified the factors associated with these complications. The mechanisms are not very different from those observed after pulmonary resection. Nevertheless, there is an important lack of definition, and evaluation of the incidence is particularly difficult. Furthermore, respiratory complications are related to many factors. Careful medical history, physical examination and pulmonary function testing help to identify the risk factors and provide strategies to reduce the risk of pulmonary complications. Standardized postoperative management and a better understanding of the pathogenesis of pulmonary complications are necessary to reduce hospital mortality. This article discusses preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative factors affecting respiratory complications and strategies to reduce the incidence of these complications after oesophagectomy.
© 2008 Elsevier Masson SAS. Tous droits réservés.