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Bone Fracture Healing Found To Take Longer In Patients Who Smoke

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Numerous studies have detailed the detrimental effect of smoking on human health. However, very few have undertaken to determine how smoking affects the healing process after bone fractures or its potential to increase the risk of post-operative complications such as infection. A research team from the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania´s Perelman School of Medicine has sought to fill in some of the gaps, conducting an analysis of data for 6,480 fracture patients. The study results support early evidence that smoking prolongs the healing time and increases the risk of post-operative complications in patients with fractures or traumatic bone injuries.

The researchers tapped into a database containing information from previous studies into the effect of smoking on bone and soft tissue healing. The team was looking to establish a connection between smoking and healing time, as well as a link between smoking and post-surgical complications. The focus of the researchers was on fractures of the tibia, femur, ankle, humerus and multiple long bones. The patients covered in the study underwent both surgical and non-surgical treatment.

The analysis of the data showed that it took much longer for fractures to heal in patients who smoked. In their case, the healing took 30.2 weeks as opposed to 24.1 weeks for non-smoking patients. The researchers also found a much higher likelihood for non-unions in smokers. They were estimated to be 2.3 times more likely to end up with a non-healed fracture compared to patients who did not smoke.