Background and objective Late postoperative hypoxaemia after upper abdominal surgery is common even among cardiopulmonary healthy patients. Atelectasis may develop after intubation and persist into or reveal a disposition for atelectasis in the postoperative period. Positive end–expiratory pressure (PEEP) eliminates peroperative atelectasis but the effect on perioperative oxygenation is controversial. This study evaluated the effect of peroperative PEEP optimized pulmonary compliance on perioperative oxygenation and complications.
Methods Forty patients assessed by electrocardiography, spirometry, functional residual capacity and diffusion capacity were randomly assigned to receive positive end–expiratory pressure (PEEP) or zero endexpiratory pressure (ZEEP) during surgery. PaO2, SPO2 and complications in the postoperative period were evaluated without knowledge of peroperative PEEP or ZEEP application.
Results Peroperative arterial oxygenation improved for all patients receiving PEEP, mean 2.1 kPa (0.7–3.5 kPa). There was no difference in postoperative median PaO2 between the groups. The differences in the incidence of late prolonged postoperative hypoxaemia and complications were 25% (−5% to 55%) and −1% (−31% to 29%) between the ZEEP and the PEEP group, but were not statistically significant.