Thursday, March 19, 2009

Surgical Complications Dramatically Higher for Smokers

Wouldn't you think that if you were going into the hospital to have surgery, and your doc asked you to stop smoking in advance of the operation (and for a few weeks afterwards) that you might at least consider that request?

It turns out that in a study of exactly this, the great percentage of smokers who were told about prospective complications to their surgery declined to stop smoking for the operation. Still, more than a third of patients who took part in this eight-week smoking cessation program before and after their planned surgery were able to give up and most of them were still smoke free after a year.

This study was published in the March 2009 issue of Anaesthesia. In the article, the lead author, Dr. Omid Sadr Azodi of the Karolinska Institute (Stockholm) describes how they also experienced half as many complications after surgery as the patients who did not receive help to give up smoking, with 21 percent experiencing problems as opposed to 41 percent. While doctors have long suspected that smokers have a greater risk for complications of any surgery, this is the first published trial I've seen that confirmed it.

It's also the first published trial I've seen which shows just how difficult it is to get those smokers to stop temporarily for their hospital visit. Patients declined to take part in the research because they were unwilling to give up smoking or were stressed by their forthcoming surgery.

“Smokers are prone to developing a number of complications after surgery, ranging from impaired wound and bone healing to life-threatening pulmonary and cardiovascular problems” says Dr Sadr Azodi. “This is why it is so important to find feasible, financially attractive and effective ways to help patients stop smoking before surgery."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I review medical documents for disability claims. I can't tell you how many so-called failed back surgeries I see where the patient has not quit smoking. Nicotine closes the blood vessels that bring oxygen to the recovering body area. The oxygen is a factor in healing. These people are clearly in pain but I think they don't believe that smoking has any effect on their backs. The physician has sometimes recorded orders which tell them to quit smoking, but I wonder how much time is spent telling them why it is important.