Complications developed in 6.34% of smokers and 4.72% of nonsmokers (P less than .001). Numerous kinds of complications were more common in the smokers prior to adjustment: death, return to the operating room, readmission, and transfusion plus wound, pulmonary, thromboembolic and cardiac complications.
The researchers adjusted their statistics to account for factors such as ethnicity, sex, body mass index, preexisting comorbidities, and type of hernia operation. They found that risk of all complications was higher in smokers, compared with nonsmokers (odds ratio, 1.30) as were several other complications: death (OR, 1.53), return to operating room (OR, 1.23), readmission (OR, 1.24), wound complication (OR, 1.36), sepsis/septic shock (OR, 1.31), pulmonary complication (OR 1.77-2.30) and cardiac complication (OR, 1.27-1.43).
Only transfusion (OR, 0.90) and thromboembolic (OR, 0.87) complications were less likely in smokers.
The researchers noted that the statistics don’t allow them to analyze whether it makes any difference if smokers quit shortly before their procedures. Still, Dr. Stulberg stands by his you-must-quit-smoking-before-surgery edict. “I believe that their active smoking habit is a bigger health threat than their asymptomatic hernia, and therefore feel the right thing to do as their physician is support them through their smoking cessation,” he said. “I offer counseling and nicotine replacement if needed. I have very good quit rates and would encourage other surgeons to do the same.”