Original Research

The role of prophylactic chest physiotherapy after cardiac valvular surgery: Is there one ?

S. B. de Charmoy, C. J. Eales
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 56, No 3 | a539 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v56i3.539 | © 2018 S. B. de Charmoy, C. J. Eales | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 10 September 2018 | Published: 31 August 2000

About the author(s)

S. B. de Charmoy, Department of Physiotherapy, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
C. J. Eales, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa

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A study was conducted to investigate whether there is a role for prophylactic chest physiotherapy in preventing pulmonary complications in-patients undergoing uncomplicated cardiac valvular surgery. 'Thirty patients were randomly divided into two groups. The patients in group I (n = 14) received instructions that they should cough after their operation and that they should get out of bed on the second post-operative day. The patients in group 2 (n = 16) were seen pre-operatively and treated post-operatively by a physiotherapist. The treatment consisted of breathing exercises, supported coughing and assistance with walking from the second post-operative day. These patients were seen twice daily on the first and second post-operative days and once daily on the third and fourth post-operative days. No patients in either group developed a pulmonary complication during their post-operative hospital stay. The incidence of hypoxaemia, chest X-ray abnormalities and length of post-operative stay were not significantly higher for the control group. The findings of this study suggest that the role of prophylactic chest physiotherapy following cardiac valvular surgery is questionable.


physical therapy; physiotherapy; breathing exercises; open heart surgery


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Crossref Citations

1. Exercise-based cardiac rehabilitation for adults after heart valve surgery
Kirstine L Sibilitz, Selina K Berg, Lars H Tang, Signe S Risom, Christian Gluud, Jane Lindschou, Lars Kober, Christian Hassager, Rod S Taylor, Ann-Dorthe Zwisler
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews  year: 2016  
doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD010876.pub2