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Updated 08 June 2015

Smokers may need more anaesthesia for surgery

Turkish researchers found that women who smoked needed 33 percent more anaesthesia during a total abdominal hysterectomy than non-smokers.

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Smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke may require more anesthesia and painkillers during surgery than nonsmokers, according to a new study.

Metabolism of anaesthetic drugs affected

Turkish researchers looked at 90 women who underwent surgery to remove their uterus through an incision in the abdomen – a procedure called total abdominal hysterectomy. Smoking status was measured by levels of cotinine in the blood. Cotinine is a by-product of nicotine, the researchers said.

Compared with patients who didn't smoke, those who smoked needed 33 percent more anaesthesia throughout the operation. People exposed to secondhand smoke required 20 percent more anaesthesia than nonsmokers, according to the researchers.

Read: Secondhand smoke bad for brain

For painkillers, smokers needed 23 percent more medication than nonsmokers to achieve the same results. People exposed to secondhand smoke required 18 percent more pain medication than nonsmokers, the study revealed.

Nicotine may affect patients' metabolism of anaesthetic drugs in the liver, or may desensitize some of the nerve cells that sense pain, according to the study team led by Erdogan Ozturk, of the department of anaesthesiology and intensive care at Bezmialem Vakif University in Istanbul, Turkey.

The study was scheduled to be presented Saturday at a European Society of Anaesthesiology meeting in Berlin. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Read more:

Passive smoking

Smoke-free home for quitting

South Africans OK smoking

Image: Smoking kills from Shutterstock

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