Effect of smoking on early complications after elective orthopaedic surgery

J Bone Joint Surg Br. 2003 Mar;85(2):178-81. doi: 10.1302/0301-620x.85b2.13717.


Smoking is an important risk factor for the development of postoperative pulmonary complications after major surgical procedures. We studied 811 consecutive patients who had undergone hip or knee arthroplasty, recording current smoking and drinking habits, any history of chronic disease and such intraoperative factors as the type of anaesthesia and the type and duration of surgery. We recorded any postoperative complications occurring before discharge from hospital. There were 232 smokers (28.6%) and 579 non-smokers. We found that smoking was the single most important risk factor for the development of postoperative complications, particularly those relating to wound healing, cardiopulmonary complications, and the requirement of postoperative intensive care. A delay in discharge from hospital was usual for those suffering a complication. In those patients requiring prolonged hospitalisation (>15 days) the proportion of smokers with wound complications was twice that of non-smokers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Hip*
  • Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Length of Stay
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postoperative Complications*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / etiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*
  • Wound Healing