Study: Smokers fare worse after surgery than non-smokers

Reuters reports on a review of studies appearing in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, which found that smokers fare worse after knee surgery than non-smokers.

Reuters quotes Dr. Kurt Spindler, an orthopedic surgeon who wasn’t involved in the study, as explaining that because smoking impacts circulation, “it even affects musculoskeletal healing.”

Researchers looked at the results of 14 studies, six of which analyzed knee cartilage repair, and eight of which examined surgical repair of knee ligaments. They found that all but one of the studies found smokers fared worse.

Dr. David Flanigan, one of the authors of the review paper, said that he was not able to specify exactly how much worse smokers fared after surgery. Flanigan told Reuters, “We don’t have a percentage to point to. I say (to patients), we do know this has increasing rates of failure, increasing rates of people not doing well compared to people who are not smokers.”

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