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Nocturnal Hypoventilation in the Patients Submitted to Thoracic Surgery.

INTRODUCTION: Nocturnal hypoventilation may occur due to obesity, concomitant chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obstructive sleep apnea, and/or the use of narcotic analgesics. The aim of the study was to evaluate the risk and severity of nocturnal hypoventilation as assessed by transcutaneous continuous capnography in the patients submitted to thoracic surgery.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: The material of the study consisted of 45 obese (BMI 34.8 ± 3.7 kg/m2 ) and 23 nonobese (25.5 ± 3.6 kg/m2 ) patients, who underwent thoracic surgery because of malignant (57 patients) and nonmalignant tumors. All the patients received routine analgesic treatment after surgery including intravenous morphine sulfate. Overnight transcutaneous measurements of CO2 partial pressure (tcpCO2 ) were performed before and after surgery in search of nocturnal hypoventilation, i.e., the periods lasting at least 10 minutes with tcpCO2 above 55 mmHg.

RESULTS: Nocturnal hypoventilation during the first night after thoracic surgery was detected in 10 patients (15%), all obese, three of them with COPD, four with high suspicion of moderate-to-severe OSA syndrome, and one with chronic daytime hypercapnia. In the patients with nocturnal hypoventilation, the mean tcpCO2 was 53.4 ± 6.1 mmHg, maximal tcpCO2 was 59.9 ± 8.4 mmHg, and minimal tcpCO2 was 46.4 ± 6.7 mmHg during the first night after surgery. In these patients, there were higher values of minimal, mean, and maximal tcpCO2 in the preoperative period. Nocturnal hypoventilation in the postoperative period did not influence the duration of hospitalization. Among 12 patients with primary lung cancer who died during the first two years of observation, there were 11 patients without nocturnal hypoventilation in the early postoperative period.

CONCLUSION: Nocturnal hypoventilation may occur in the patients after thoracic surgery, especially in obese patients with bronchial obstruction, obstructive sleep apnea, or chronic daytime hypercapnia, and does not influence the duration of hospitalization.

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