Only 21 percent of the kick-the-habit group experienced postsurgical complications, whereas 41 percent of the others did.
“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,” said lead author Omid Sadr Azodi of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden. “This is why it is so important to find feasible, financially attractive and effective ways to help patients stop smoking before surgery.
“Our study shows that providing support in the run-up to surgery enabled a third of the patients who took part in the study to remain smoke-free after a year.”
The study looked at 117 people who were scheduled to receive general or orthopedic surgery. They were randomly divided into two groups: one that received tobacco-quitting “intervention” and another that constituted the control group.
“The intervention group attended weekly meetings or received telephone support and were provided with free nicotine-replacement therapy, while the control group just received standard pre-operative care,” said Sadr Azodi. “Patients were then assessed at regular intervals before and after surgery and after 12 months.
“One interesting thing to emerge from the study,” Sadr Azodi said, “was the high refusal rate. A further 76 patients declined to take part in our research, because they were unwilling to give up smoking or were stressed by their forthcoming surgery.”