Researchers at Karolinska Institutet, in Stockholm, Sweden, studied whether a smoking cessation program, started during hospitalization, might reduce complications followingemergency surgical treatment of fractures.
First, the details.
105 smokers with a fracture of a lower or upper extremity requiring acute surgery were randomly assigned to a treatment group.
Smoking cessation program started within 2 days of surgery, and followed for 6 weeks.
Patients in the program were offered 1 or 2 meetings with a nurse trained in smoking cessation plus regular telephone contact.
During the 6-week follow-up, patients were encouraged not to smoke.
Free nicotine substitution was offered to those who needed it.
The researcher was not aware of the treatment given — single-blind.
And, the results.
The proportion of patients with at least 1 postoperative complicationwas significantly higher in the control group vsthe smoking cessation group (38% vs 20%).
2 or more postoperative complications werealso significantly more common among the control patients.
Superficial wound infection, the most frequently recorded complicationin both groups, were 20% and 8%–notsignificant.
The odds of havinga complication were almost 3 times higher in the control group than in the smoking cessationgroup–not significant.
The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “A smoking cessation intervention programduring the first 6 weeks after acute fracture surgery decreasesthe risk of postoperative complications.”
The results are significant because until now it was believed that it was necessary to stop smoking prior to surgery in order to gain benefit.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.