Smoking Cessation Programs Prior To Joint Replacement Surgery Can Benefit Patients

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Smoking cessation programs are significantly helping smokers combat surgery and emerge healthy out of them, reveals a study. Smokers enrolled in these programs faced fewer negative post-surgery outcomes.

The tobacco-using patients who were enrolled in these cessation programs tend to avoid being readmitted to the hospital, do not have surgical infections and do not get blood clots. These are, however, primary facts and need to be studied further in detail.

Researchers say that orthopaedics are considering enrolling their patients into smoking cessation classes, which lead to better surgical outcomes and reductions in healthcare costs.

The Study Revelations

Per older studies, patients who smoke and have a total joint replacement surgery have a 50 percent more chance of facing surgical complications and cost $5,000 more than a non-smoker’s surgery. Another study had revealed that tobacco users were 2.1 times more prone to surgical infections than non-smoking patients.

However, the latest study suggests that the delay in surgery and a cessation program improves the outcome, as well as reduces the cost of reoperations.

“By delaying surgery in high-risk patients until they enroll in a program 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. Our study adds that telling patients to stop smoking likely is not enough, and an established smoking cessation program may be most beneficial,” says Dr. Iorio, senior author of the study.

The Smoking Cessation Program

To battle this tremendous risk, NYU Langone has developed a smoking cessation program which is crafted to help smokers quit in one or two weeks. The voluntary program, designed in 2012 consists of counseling and nicotine replacement therapy. Post-operation therapy is also available.

Out of 103 patients who smoked, 47 completed all the sessions of the program. Studies into the data found that smokers who took the program before their surgery had 4.1 times the tendency to quit smoking after surgery than the patients who did not undergo the program.

The reoperation rates for patients who enrolled in the program had shrunk to 4.3 percent for people who participated in the smoking cessation programs. In knee replacements, adverse surgical effects were noted in only 22 percent of smokers who took the program, as compared to 29 percent of the people who did not.

Researchers stress on the fact that these statistics point towards much safer surgical outcomes. A second study, comprising 900 smokers is being carried out, which will strengthen the statistics. A limitation of this study was that there was no chemical determination of the patients being tobacco-free. Future research studies will be mindful of this fact and take steps to chemically determine the absence of tobacco.

Photo: Shannon Holman | Flickr

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