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ObjectivesTo determine whether driving pressure and expiratory flow limitation are associated with the development of postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) in cardiac surgery patients.DesignProspective cohort study.SettingUniversity Hospital San Raffaele, Milan, Italy.ParticipantsPatients undergoing elective cardiac surgery.Measurements and main resultsThe primary endpoint was the occurrence of a predefined composite of PPCs. The authors determined the association among PPCs and intraoperative ventilation parameters, mechanical power and energy load, and occurrence of expiratory flow limitation (EFL) assessed with the positive end-expiratory pressure test. Two hundred patients were enrolled, of whom 78 (39%) developed one or more PPCs. Patients with PPCs, compared with those without PPCs, had similar driving pressure (mean difference [MD] -0.1 [95% confidence interval (CI), -1.0 to 0.7] cmH2O, p = 0.561), mechanical power (MD 0.5 [95% CI, -0.3 to 1.1] J/m, p = 0.364), and total energy load (MD 95 [95% CI, -78 to 263] J, p = 0.293), but they had a higher incidence of EFL (51% v 38%, p = 0.005). Only EFL was associated independently with the development of PPCs (odds ratio 2.46 [95% CI, 1.28-4.80], p = 0.007).ConclusionsPPCs occurred frequently in this patient population undergoing cardiac surgery. PPCs were associated independently with the presence of EFL but not with driving pressure, total energy load, or mechanical power.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of cardiothoracic and vascular anesthesia

Publication Date





815 - 824


Anesthesia and Intensive Care Unit, San Martino Policlinico Hospital, IRCCS for Oncology and Neurosciences, Genoa, Italy; Department of Surgical Sciences and Integrated Diagnostics, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy; Department of Intensive Care, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address:


Lung, Humans, Postoperative Complications, Positive-Pressure Respiration, Cardiac Surgical Procedures, Prospective Studies