Infection, pneumonia, blood clots and kidney failure are all possible complications after any major surgery. A new study shows that smoking boosts the risk of such complications following some of the most common colorectal procedures, including surgery for colon cancer, diverticulitis or inflammatory bowel disease. Lighting up also increases a patient's risk of death after surgery compared with patients who have never smoked.
The study, published in the Annals of Surgery, is unique because it focuses on elective, or non-emergency, surgeries.
"Elective surgeries are planned, so there's a built-in window of opportunity for patients to stop smoking beforehand," said Fergal J. Fleming, M.D., lead study author and assistant professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Rochester Medical Center. "We know that stopping smoking even as little as six weeks before a procedure can reduce the risk of complications."
Past research has shown that a diagnosis of cancer or the scheduling of major surgery is a time when patients may be more motivated to quit smoking. Fleming says physicians need to take full advantage of these "teachable moments" and strongly encourage patients to enter a smoking cessation program, as it could go a long way in fending off post-surgical complications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five American adults smoke, and millions of these patients undergo surgery every year. Physicians have long known that smoking is a risk factor for increased surgical complications, but this is the first large study to focus specifically on the effects of smoking after colorectal surgery.
Fleming's team tapped a large database from the American College of Surgeon's to identify patients undergoing major, non-emergency colorectal surgery. More than 47,000 patients were identified; approximately 26,000 had surgery for colorectal cancer, 14,000 for diverticular dis
|Contact: Emily Boynton|
University of Rochester Medical Center