Background Many benefits and adverse effects of positioning are related to changes in ventilation and perfusion. A number of unique factors related to the allograft make the effects of positioning difficult to determine in single-lung transplant recipients.

Objectives To determine the effect of 3 body positions (supine, lateral with allograft lung down, and lateral with native lung down) on oxygenation and blood flow in single-lung transplant recipients in the 24 hours immediately after surgery.

Methods A quasi-experimental repeated-measures design with stratified assignment to 1 of 3 different sequencing patterns for turning group was used to study 15 transplant recipients, 9 with emphysema and 6 with fibrosis. Oxygenation, ventilation, and blood flow measures (heart rate, blood pressure) were assessed after each turn. The effect of ischemic reperfusion injury was also explored.

Results The oxygenation, ventilation, and blood flow variables did not differ significantly across group, diagnosis, or time. Oxygenation variables measured when the allograft lung was dependent did not differ significantly from such measurements obtained when the native lung was dependent.

Conclusions No single position maximizes oxygenation in the immediate postoperative period in single-lung transplant recipients. Although a single standard protocol for positioning cannot be supported, the study does support the idea that transplant recipients can be safely turned in the immediate postoperative period without compromising oxygenation or hemodynamic status.

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