Air travel safe after chest surgery, surgeon says

May 23, 2014
Air travel safe after chest surgery, surgeon says
Whether flying or driving home, study finds similar complication rates.

(HealthDay)—If you're returning home after having chest surgery at an out-of-town hospital, flying is as safe as driving, an expert says.

It's widely believed that ground travel is safer than air travel after chest surgery, but a study by Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeon Dr. Stephen Cassivi found that isn't true. He also concluded there is no reason to wait for weeks after chest surgery to fly home.

"In general, travel after surgery can be done if it's well-organized and thought out ahead of time," he said in a Mayo news release.

Cassivi found that chest surgery patients heading home by air or by car had a similar low risk for complications such as pneumonia, blood clots and collapsed lung.

"And that speaks to a very important question that's often managed by dogma or urban myth, hospital myth. We found that although it's not a zero risk, the risk is low, and the risk is the same between ground and ," Cassivi noted.

The old rules of staying put after your surgery for two to four weeks before flying home may not apply, he added. "And I think it opens the door for patients and their surgeons to look seriously at their individual situations and govern travel decisions by how well they're doing," he said.

Cassivi presented the study in Toronto in April at the annual meeting of the American Association for Thoracic Surgery.

He offered the following tips for traveling home after surgery:

  • Don't alone.
  • To reduce the risk of , walk every hour during your trip and drink plenty of water.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • If you have problems getting enough oxygen, consider traveling with a portable oxygen tank.

The data and conclusions of research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.

Explore further: Anaesthetic technique important to prevent damage to brain

More information: The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about surgery.

Related Stories

Anaesthetic technique important to prevent damage to brain

March 31, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at the University of Adelaide have discovered that a commonly used anaesthetic technique to reduce the blood pressure of patients undergoing surgery could increase the risk of starving the brain ...

Bracing cuts scoliosis surgery only with high compliance

May 1, 2014

(HealthDay)—Bracing for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis only decreases the risk of progression to surgery when patients are highly compliant with wearing the brace, according to a study published in the April 16 issue of ...

Recommended for you

Outside the body, a heart beats via life-saving system

September 1, 2015

(Medical Xpress)—A system that enables heart transplants involving hearts that stopped beating in the donor's body continues to save lives. The Organ Care System (OCS) has been used in UK hospitals with good results.

A recipe for long-lasting livers

April 22, 2015

People waiting for organ transplants may soon have higher hopes of getting the help that they need in time. Researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology have developed a new technique that extends the time that ...

Surgeon to offer ideas on a way to do human head transplants

February 26, 2015

Sergio Canavero of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group has made it known that he intends to announce at this summer's American Academy of Neurological and Orthopedic Surgeons meeting, that he believes he has put together ...

New tool helps guide brain cancer surgery

July 3, 2014

A tool to help brain surgeons test and more precisely remove cancerous tissue was successfully used during surgery, according to a Purdue University and Brigham and Women's Hospital study.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.