Background: The incidences of postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) such as atelectasis, pneumonia and pleural effusion after major surgery range from <1 to 23%. Atelectasis after abdominal surgery increases the duration of hospitalization and short-term mortality rate, but there are few reports about atelectasis after hepatectomy. The effectiveness of prone position drainage as physiotherapy has been reported, but it remains unclarified whether prone positioning prevents atelectasis after hepatectomy. This study aimed to evaluate the effect of the prone position on the incidence of atelectasis after hepatectomy. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the incidence of PPCs after hepatectomy at a single center. Patients were divided into two cohorts. The earlier cohort (n = 165) underwent hepatectomy between January 2016 and March 2018 and was analyzed to identify the risk factors for atelectasis and short-term outcomes; the later cohort (n = 51) underwent hepatectomy between April 2018 and March 2019 and underwent prone position drainage in addition to regular mobilization postoperatively. The incidences of PPCs were compared between the two cohorts. Results: Independent risk factors for atelectasis were anesthetic duration (P = 0.016), operation time (P = 0.046) and open surgery (P = 0.011). The incidence of atelectasis was significantly lower in the later cohort (9.8%) than the earlier cohort (34.5%, P < 0.001). Moreover, the later cohort had a significantly shorter duration of oxygen support (P < 0.001) and postoperative hospitalization (P < 0.001). After propensity score-matching, the incidence of atelectasis remained significantly lower in the later cohort (P = 0.027). Conclusion: Prone position drainage may decrease the incidence of atelectasis after hepatectomy and improve the short-term outcomes.
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