March 15th, 2011

Quitting Smoking Shortly Before Surgery: Is It Safe?

Quitting smoking soon before surgery is safe, according to a new meta-analysis published in Archives of Internal Medicine. In response to fears that people who stopped smoking within 8 weeks prior to surgery may have had worse outcomes, Katie Myers and colleagues analyzed data from 9 studies and found no association with postoperative complications.

The authors concluded that “patients should be advised to stop smoking as early as possible, but there is no evidence to suggest that health professionals should not be advising smokers to quit at any time prior to surgery.”

But in an accompanying comment, Clara Chow and PJ Devereaux write that although the meta-analysis “provides valuable information it does not definitively answer the question raised” due to the small number of patients enrolled in the studies and other limitations. They recommend that “physicians should ideally try to get their patients to stop smoking several months prior to their surgery” and that advice about “optimal timing of smoking cessation… awaits further research.”


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