How smoking affects bone restoration after a fracture

Smoking can affect fracture recovery

Scientists are finding new aspects of the dangers of smoking. This time, a team of researchers from the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) concluded that smoking negatively affects bone health.

Specialists studied the influence of bad habits on the recovery of patients who underwent surgery for a wrist fracture (distal radius) with a displacement, one of the most common fractures. The researchers analyzed data on 200 patients who were operated on in 2006 and 2017 in two trauma centers.

Patients were described as smokers, former smokers, and never smokers (20, 32, and 148, respectively) based on self-assessment of cigarette use.

After three months and one year of postoperative follow-up, almost all achieved good results of bone restoration and wrist movement volume.

However, the intermediate results — 3 months and a year after the operation — did not differ in favor of smoking groups, including those who had already quit smoking. These patients showed worse scores associated with arm, shoulder, and hand function, and a lower percentage of fracture healing.

“In general, we found that in the long term, we can achieve very good clinical and radiological results with surgery for wrist fractures with displacement in smokers or previously smokers,” says senior study author Tamara D. Rosenthal, MD Head of the Department of Upper Limb Surgery at BIDMC and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School. “However, short-term results demonstrate a higher degree of disability and poorer fracture healing in smokers.”

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