Postoperative Pneumonia


Postoperative pneumonia (POP) is the most common postoperative complication. Depending on the type of surgery performed occurs in 9-40% of patients following abdominal surgery with an associated mortality rate of 30-46%.


Patients undergoing upper abdominal or thoracic surgery are particularly vulnerable to developing POP with a reported incidence of POP after upper abdominal incisions of 36.7%. The incidence of POP increases when patients undergo combined thoraco-abdominal procedures for oesophageal or gastro-oesophageal junctional (GOJ) cancers. Following an open transthoracic oesophagectomy for such tumours the incidence of POP is 57%.


Such complications following surgery can increase length of hospital stay by 75%, costs by 50% and have a negative impact on postoperative survival.


Definition of Postoperative Pneumonia


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a well validated definition of Postoperative Pneumonia (POP) which is cited in over 4,500 peer-reviewed publications. It defines POP as postoperative patients who met one of the following two criteria between the 2nd and 30th postoperative day:


Dullness to percussion on physical examination of chest


Chest Radiograph showing new or progressive infiltrate, consolidation, cavitation, or pleural effusion

AND anyone of the following:


  • New onset of purulent sputum or change in character of sputum
  • Isolation of organism from blood culture
  • Isolation of pathogen from specimen obtained by transtracheal aspirate, bronchial brushing, or biopsy



Latest News

Follow us

Recommend this page on:

Contact us

Email us at:


You can also use our contact form.



Links to third party web sites are provided here. The School of Surgery Editors have reviewed all of these third party sites, but we neither control nor are responsible for any of the content. The views expressed in the links may not reflect the views or the practice of the Editors. Some users may find the content disturbing as it shows detailed surgical procedures. If you access any of the third party sites linked to this site you do so entirely at your own risk. In addition, the Editors strictly comply with the GMC's Policy on Social Media.