Background: The objectives of this study were to assess whether children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) present for surgery with poorer pulmonary function, and experience a more pronounced deterioration in pulmonary function following anesthesia and surgery, than non-ETS-exposed children.
Methods: Fifty-four children aged 5-15 years with a history of ETS exposure from one or both parents and 54 children with no such ETS history were included in the study. All participants were presenting for ambulatory surgery and were judged to conform to American Society of Anesthesiology class I or II. Spirometry was performed preoperatively, postoperatively in the recovery ward when the child met criteria for discharge (Aldrete score 8), and before discharge from the day ward.
Results: The ETS-exposed group had a significantly lower mean preoperative peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) (9.5 points lower percent predicted, 95% confidence interval -18.1 to -1.0, P = 0.03). Although not statistically significant, they also had lower percent predicted baseline mean values of the other spirometric variables that were measured (forced expiratory volume in 1 s -4.5%, P = 0.07; forced vital capacity -4.1%, P = 0.10; forced expiratory flow between 25% and 75%-3.6%, P = 0.44). Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) performed in recovery were between 8% and 14% worse than preoperative values, but the results were similar in the two groups of children. PFTs performed before hospital discharge demonstrated an near-complete recovery to baseline values. Again the pattern was similar in exposed and nonexposed children.
Conclusions: Environmental tobacco smoke exposure is associated with lower preoperative PEFR values, but does not impact on recovery from anesthesia for healthy children undergoing ambulatory anesthesia.