Smoking and Orthopaedic Surgery



Most  people who smoke have been told by their doctor that they should try to stop because of the risk of chest disease, heart disease and other complications.  Smoking will increase the risk of complications from an anaesthetic so it is a good idea to make a resolution to stop smoking as soon as you decide to undergo an orthopaedic operation, you should go to your GP's surgery and discuss going on a smoking cessation course.


A lot of people are not aware of the fact that smoking causes serious damage to bones, tendons and the discs in the spine. The effect of this is that you should make every effort to stop smoking before you have any orthopaedic surgery.  


There is a particular risk for patients who are undergoing either a bone graft or and operation to join together to bones (a bone or joint fusion).  the difficulty is that the poisons in the cigarette smoke have a bad effect on the bone cells which are trying to join together the 2 bones or to get the bone graft to solidify and form new bone.


For this reason some orthopaedic surgeons believe that it is irresponsible to carry out this type of surgery in patients who continue to smoke. All orthopaedic surgeons that they would advise their patients stop.


For advice from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons see this webpage and for the American Academy's  position statement on smoking click here.

Some great people from the history of Orthopaedics:

The anatomical studies of Leonardo da Vinci, from around 1510, are one of the great achievements of the Italian renaissance.  His work helped to lay the foundations of modern scientific medicine, and orthopaedics in particular


Pioneering Orthopaedic Surgeon Professor Sir John Charnley using the lathe in his workshop at home. John Charnley radically changed the treatment of hip arthritis with his total hip replacement designed in the early 1960s. 


Mr Mike Freeman of The London Hospital sitting with Dr John Insall  (right) of The Hospital for Special Surgery, New York in Mike Freeman's garden in about 1980.  These two individuals were responsible for working out questions of design, balance and alignment which are the basis of all good modern Total Knee Replacements.