Tobacco dependence in surgical patients

David O Warner
Current Opinion in Anaesthesiology 2007, 20 (3): 279-83

PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Many patients who smoke cigarettes require anesthesia and surgery. Their smoking can have profound consequences for perioperative management. Efforts to help them quit will be rewarded by both improved immediate postoperative outcomes and the long-term health benefits after surgery. This review will introduce basic concepts important to perioperative tobacco control and cover recent advances in the field.

RECENT FINDINGS: Evidence continues to accumulate regarding how smoking increases perioperative risk, especially of wound-related complications. There is also new information regarding how abstinence from smoking reduces risk, including how the timing of preoperative abstinence affects outcome. Methods to help surgical patients continue to be developed, taking advantage of surgery as a teachable moment for intervention. There is a need to develop methods practical in the surgical setting. Several pharmacological tools to help surgical patients quit smoking are available, including a new partial acetylcholine receptor agonist.

SUMMARY: The fact that the perioperative period represents an excellent opportunity to help surgical patients quit smoking is becoming increasingly apparent. Although these efforts, and the evidence base to support them, are still at an early stage of development, seizing this opportunity will benefit both the short and long-term health of our patients who smoke.

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