Sticks and stones may break your bones and cigarettes will stop their healing

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This week, two studies presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons examined the effects of smoking on joint replacements of the knee and the hip. In both instances, the researchers found, the failure rate was significantly higher in smokers.

In fact, patients who smoked before and/or after a total knee replacement (TKR) had a 10-fold higher failure rate of their replacement joints than did non-smokers: 10 percent among the smokers versus just 1 percent in the non-smokers. The study involved 621 TKR patients, including 131 smokers, and both medical complications and failures were far more prevalent in the smoking group.

Another study looked at how smoking affected 533 patients who underwent hip replacement surgery and found that the failure rate of smokers new joints was 9.1 percent, compared to 3.4 percent in non-smokers.

Given these results, it s not surprising that the investigators recommend that orthopaedic surgeons advise their patients to cease smoking before surgery. As one orthopaedic surgeon in attendance at the annual meeting said, "Smoking is the most costly and most preventable risk factor in postoperative complications. To which ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross adds, We discuss various orthopedic effects of smoking in our classic tome on this subject, Cigarettes: What the Warning Label Doesn t Tell You. This particular complication will be in our next edition.