It is well known that anesthesia and certain surgeries predispose patients to changes in respiratory function, pulmonary volumes, and gas exchange. Cardiac surgery, which is considered a major surgery, may trigger respiratory complications in the postoperative period. These complications have various causes, such as heart and lung functions in the pre-operative, the use of cardiopulmonary bypass (CPB), and the level of sedation. In these extensive thoracic procedures, respiratory dysfunction may be significant, persisting in the postoperative period. Physiotherapy is offered to patients in the ICU as part of a multidisciplinary treatment plan. It is a time-consuming treatment, and is possible at various times during the patient's stay in the ICU. However, it is particularly valuable in postoperative recovery in order to avoid respiratory and motor complications. Thus, a literature review was performed, aiming to arrange current and relevant information on available resources for respiratory monitoring, as well as its importance in evaluating and treating lung function impairment, as this complication is a frequent cause of death in surgical patients. Bras Cir Cardiovasc 2008; 23(3): 400-410 For acquisition data in this study, scientific articles and an electronic research strategy was used for bibliographic reviews, mainly aiming to identify studies and guidelines that relate to physiotherapeutic performance and cardiothoracic surgery. The study was carried out based on articles that were published in the last 20 years, were available in the MEDLINE database, and used the terms "Physiotherapy", "cardiac surgery", "respiratory monitoring" and/or "respiratory complications". Relevant studies from Brazilian authors were also considered, particularly those published by the Brazilian Journal of Cardiovascular Surgery and the Brazilian Archives of Cardiology (official journals of dissemination of Brazilian cardiology) if the articles contained the key words "physiotherapy" and "monitoring". In addition to this research, additional data from postgraduate studies was found at the Division of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, FMRP-USP.ARCÊNCIO, L ET AL -Pre-and postoperative care in cardiothoracic surgery: a physiotherapeutic approach RevThe findings included randomized clinical trials, metaanalysis, review articles and consensus guidelines, and were related to physiotherapy, respiratory monitoring, and cardiac surgery and its complications. As the diagram of Figure 1 shows, 623 potentially relevant publications in MEDLINE were found, of which 55 fulfilled all of the scientific criteria.