You've been struggling with osteoarthritis in your hip joint for years and have finally decided to go for hip replacement surgery to fix the problem. The prognosis for joint surgery is usually good, so there's nothing to be afraid of, right? Wrong!
According to a study recently published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery, while joint surgery like hip or knee replacement usually involve no complications, people who smoke are at increased risk of problems with infection, loosening and dislocation of the prosthesis post surgery.
Researchers find that smokers are at increased risk of infection after joint surgery
To reach their findings, Dr Matthew Austin from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia in the US and his team analysed data from over 150,000 patients who underwent either total hip or knee replacements between 2000 and 2014. The overall risk of repeat surgery within 90 days due to infection was only 0.71%.
However, the researchers found that the risk for current smokers was 1.2%, compared to 0.56% for non-smokers. After they adjusted for other factors like age, gender and lifestyle habits, they concluded that current smokers’ risk was 80% higher than former smokers and non-smokers.
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What’s more, they found that former and current smokers’ risk of 90-day hospital readmission not involving surgery rose with the number of packs of cigarettes they smoked per day over a number of years.
Smoking just one extra pack of cigarettes a day for 10 years was associated with a 12% increased risk of readmission!
Researchers suggest that patients enroll in smoking-cessation programmes before joint surgery
While the study found a link between smoking and increased risk of infection post joint surgery, it was unable to prove cause-and-effect.
Dr Austin and his team said they suggest that patients enroll in smoking cessation programmes before undergoing joint replacement surgery.
They concluded that further research is needed to confirm whether or not quitting smoking before undergoing joint surgery will reduce risk of complications like infection.
If you’re a smoker and are contemplating joint surgery, you should speak to your doctor about the potential complications before making a final decision.