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Smoking Hampers Healing of the Ligament

ock to the injury site and secrete substances called cytokines and chemokines. Those, in turn, recruit more cells to assist in healing. That process of cellular proliferation and synthesis lasts for several days to several weeks. The final stage of healing involves remodeling of the tissue and can continue for months and even years.

An earlier study found an increase in cell density and in gene activity to produce type I collagen in the first week following MCL injury, so in this study the researchers paid close attention to cell density, biomechanical function and gene expression during the first week after MCL repair. In mice exposed to cigarette smoke, cell density was lower and type I collagen gene expression was reduced.

"Our studies also have shown a decreased macrophage response that may help explain why we see this delayed or decreased healing response," Wright says.

Sandell and Wright say their findings point to yet another reason smokers would do well to quit.

"Many patients don't want to hear it, but these results suggest that smoking affects anyone who needs ligament-repair surgery. I counsel surgery patients to at least try to decrease smoking because, if nothing else, that will improve the healing of their surgical incisions. Quitting smoking is good health management regardless, but in patients having this kind of surgery, there are extra advantages." Wright says.

The findings of the study are reported in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.


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