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20 March 2017

Quitting smoking may cut complication risk after joint replacement

It's known that smokers do worse than non-smokers after joint replacements, and now research shows that quitting smoking before surgery can improve patients' outcomes.

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There are many reasons to quit smoking, the most important of which is undoubtedly to improve the length and quality of your life. Apart from saving you a lot of money, quitting also improves the health of the people around you. 

And now there's another reason: Quitting smoking before knee or hip replacement surgery may cut the risk of complications after surgery, a new study suggests.

Good early evidence 

Instead of just telling people to quit smoking, these findings suggest that doctors should guide people into pre-surgery smoking-cessation programmes for smokers, the researchers said.

"We've known that smokers do worse than non-smokers after joint replacements, and now this research shows there's good early evidence that quitting smoking before surgery may improve their outcomes," said study author Dr Amy Wasterlain. She's a fourth-year orthopaedic surgery resident at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City.

Smoking is a risk factor

"Not every risk factor can be reduced before a joint replacement, but smoking status is one that should be a top priority for orthopaedic surgeons and their patients," she added in an NYU news release.

The study included more than 500 smokers who had total knee or hip replacement surgery. The smoking-cessation programme was designed by NYU Langone. It included four counselling sessions by telephone. The programme also provided nicotine replacement therapy as needed.

Just over 100 smokers were referred to the programme, the researchers said.

Quit smoking for better surgical outcomes

Some other key findings of the study include:

  • People who completed the quit smoking programme had better surgical outcomes.
  • People who stopped smoking had lower rates of problems after surgery.
  • Smokers who have total joint replacement surgery are 50% more likely to have complications during surgery than nonsmokers.
  • People who used tobacco within one month of surgery were more than twice as likely to develop a deep surgical infection than those who didn't

"By delaying surgery in high-risk patients until they enrol in a programme to quit smoking, we are not only improving how the patient will do after surgery, but eliminating some of the burden on the health care system caused by poor outcomes and increases in costly reoperations," said study senior author Dr Richard Iorio. He's a professor of orthopaedic surgery at NYU Langone.

Read More:

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