Review Article

Optimizing health before elective thoracic surgery: systematic review of modifiable risk factors and opportunities for health services research

Sean M. Stokes, Elliot Wakeam, Mara B. Antonoff, Leah M. Backhus, Robert A. Meguid, David Odell, Thomas K. Varghese Jr


Despite progress in many different domains of surgical care, we are still striving toward practices which will consistently lead to the best care for an increasingly complex surgical population. Thoracic surgical patients, as a group, have multiple medical co-morbidities and are at increased risk for developing complications after surgical intervention. Our healthcare systems have been focused on treating complications as they occur in the hopes of minimizing their impact, as well as aiding in recovery. In recent years there has emerged a body of evidence outlining opportunities to optimize patients and likely prevent or decrease the impact of many complications. The purpose of this review article is to summarize four major domains—optimal pain control, nutritional status, functional fitness, and smoking cessation—all of which can have a substantial impact on the thoracic surgical patient’s course in the hospital—as well as to describe opportunities for improvement, and areas for future research efforts.

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