Obesity has been thought to predispose patients to excess morbidity after lung resection because of decreased diaphragm excursion, reduced lung volumes and relative immobility. We assessed the relationship of body mass index (BMI) to acute outcomes after major lung resection.
Information from our database of lung resections was evaluated for the period 1980–2011. Univariate analysis for adverse events (pulmonary, cardiovascular, other and overall) was used to select variables for inclusion in multivariate logistic regression analyses. Missing values were imputed. BMI was categorized as underweight (<18.5), normal (18.5–24.9), overweight (25–29.9), obese (30–34.9) and very obese (≥35).
Among 1369 patients, there were 703 males (51%) and the mean age was 62 ± 11 years. Complications included the following: pulmonary 12%, cardiovascular 15%, other 16%, mortality 5% and any 29%. The incidence of complications decreased during each decade of study (40, 30, 26, 20%; P < 0.0001) and the incidence of obese/very obese increased during the same intervals (11, 22, 30, 25%; P = 0.0007). Adjusting for age, performance status, coronary artery disease, smoking status, diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide, forced expiratory volume in 1 s and operation year, being overweight/obese/very obese did not increase the risk of postoperative complications in any category. In fact, patients in this group showed a lower rate of cardiovascular complications than those with BMI ≤ 25 (odds ratio (OR): 0.72; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.51–1.00; P = 0.048). However, being underweight was importantly associated with an increased risk of pulmonary complications (OR: 2.5; 95% CI: 1.3–4.9; P = 0.0087) and of operative mortality (OR: 2.96; 95% CI: 1.28–6.86; P = 0.011).
Being overweight or obese does not increase the risk of complications after major lung resection. In contrast, patients who are underweight are at significantly increased risk of pulmonary complications and mortality. Knowledge of the relationship of BMI to perioperative risk for major lung resection is essential in proper risk stratification.