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Surgeon. 2010 Apr;8(2):111-6. doi: 10.1016/j.surge.2009.10.014. Epub 2010 Feb 4.

The effects of smoking on fracture healing.

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  • 1Faculty of Health, Life and Social Sciences, University of Lincoln, Brayford Pool, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 7TS, UK.


Tobacco smoking is the single most avoidable cause of premature death worldwide. In fracture healing, it has been found to be a contributory factor to delayed union, and smokers are significantly disadvantaged, as healing times are often prolonged. The orthopaedic surgeon is likely to be knowledgeable about the detrimental effects of smoking on healing bones, as the problem has been known for some time. Smoking adversely affects bone mineral density, lumbar disc degeneration, the incidences of hip fractures and the dynamics of bone and wound healing. Clinical trials and demographic studies have been more widespread than biochemical analyses, and have reported poor prognosis for fracture patients who smoke. Scientific research has elucidated some of the negative impacts of tobacco use and investigations involving several animal models in cellular and humoral analyses have shown damage caused by various toxicological processes. Cessation of the habit perioperatively, therefore, is routinely advised to improve outcomes for patients. The current review describes some of the consequences of tobacco smoking in fracture healing.

Copyright 2009 Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (Scottish charity number SC005317) and Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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