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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a condition commonly present in older people undergoing surgery and confers an increased risk of postoperative complications and mortality. Although predominantly a respiratory disease, it frequently has extra-pulmonary manifestations and typically occurs in the context of other long-term conditions. Patients experience a range of symptoms that affect their quality of life, functional ability and clinical outcomes. In this review, we discuss the evidence for techniques to optimise the care of people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in the peri-operative period, and address potential new interventions to improve outcomes. The article centres on pulmonary rehabilitation, widely available for the treatment of stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, but less often used in a peri-operative setting. Current evidence is largely at high risk of bias, however. Before surgery it is important to ensure that what have been called the 'five fundamentals' of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease treatment are achieved: smoking cessation; pulmonary rehabilitation; vaccination; self-management; and identification and optimisation of co-morbidities. Pharmacological treatment should also be optimised, and some patients may benefit from lung volume reduction surgery. Psychological and behavioural factors are important, but are currently poorly understood in the peri-operative period. Considerations of the risk and benefits of delaying surgery to ensure the recommended measures are delivered depends on patient characteristics and the nature and urgency of the planned intervention.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





681 - 694


chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung function, peri-operative medicine, peri-operative optimisation, pulmonary rehabilitation, Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Comorbidity, Humans, Lung, Nutritional Support, Preoperative Care, Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive, Risk Factors, Smoking Cessation