smoking and shoulder surgery

Smoking and shoulder surgery

Shoulder surgery, like any surgery, can present a number of risks. These risks can be increased due to numerous factors, with smoking being one of the main contributing factors.

A number of studies have been carried out to determine the risks smoking presents to shoulder surgery patients. The latest retrospective study into smoking and shoulder surgery has revealed its complication risks differ between procedures.

Here, we’ll look at what this latest study found and how smoking impacts the risks of different types of shoulder surgeries.

Understanding the latest study

The study took data from the National Surgery Quality Improvement Program database, compiled by the American College of Surgeons. In total, there were 134,822 cases included in the study.

The patients involved had undergone eight different shoulder and knee surgeries and were analysed using multivariate and univariate analyses. The shoulder procedures included in the study were arthroscopy with debridement, arthroscopy with subacromial decompression, arthroscopy with distal clavicle excision and subacromial arthroscopy with rotator cuff repair.

The study highlighted several complications in a 30-day period including pulmonary, wound, cardiac and clotting. Out of the procedures analysed, smoking was found to be an independent risk factor for two specific procedures. These were shoulder arthroscopy with debridement and arthroscopy with subacromial decompression.

Smoking and its effects on rotator cuff surgery

This latest study isn’t the only one to identify smoking as a risk factor for rotator cuff surgery.

A previous study carried out on 235 patients showed that the results of the procedure were better in non-smokers. They experienced a much higher degree of function, alongside less pain than the smoking group. Just 35% of smokers received good or excellent results, a lot less than the 84% experienced by non-smokers.

An earlier study which was carried out back in 2006, discovered that smoking could affect bone to tendon healing. Researchers from the Washington University School of Medicine found that nicotine exposure can delay healing between bone and tendons, potentially causing rotator cuff repair to fail.

In some cases, rotator cuff repairs were shown to fail within just days or weeks of the procedure. It is for this reason many surgeons refuse to operate on patients who smoke.

Other risks of smoking and shoulder surgery

It is known that smoking presents a lot of risks in and after surgery. Patients have an increased risk of suffering heart or lung complications. The risk of infection is also higher, as is impaired wound healing.

Smokers often also need to have higher levels of anaesthesia, which also presents its own risks. In rare cases, mortality can also occur, with smokers shown to be 38% more likely to die after the surgery. The risk of this is still small, but it’s higher than it would be if patients didn’t smoke.

This latest study interestingly reveals the impact smoking can have on specific shoulder surgeries. For this reason, it is advised patients to quit prior to undergoing surgery. The benefits of quitting smoking reach far beyond lowering the risk factors of procedures. You’ll also experience the benefits pretty quickly after stopping.

For more advice on how best to prepare for shoulder surgery, call 0203 195 2442 to arrange a consultation with the London Shoulder Specialists.