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Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jul 7;(7):CD002294. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD002294.pub3.

Interventions for preoperative smoking cessation.

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Department of Anaesthesiology, Herlev University Hospital, Herlev Ringvej 75, Herlev, Denmark, 2730.

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Smokers have a substantially increased risk of postoperative complications. Preoperative smoking intervention may be effective in decreasing this incidence, and surgery may constitute a unique opportunity for smoking cessation interventions.


The objective of this review was to assess the effect of preoperative smoking intervention on smoking cessation at the time of surgery and 12 months postoperatively and on the incidence of postoperative complications.


The specialized register of the Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group was searched using the free text and keywords (surgery) or (operation) or (anaesthesia) or (anesthesia). MEDLINE, EMBASE and CINAHL were also searched, combining tobacco- and surgery-related terms. Most recent search April 2010.


Randomized controlled trials that recruited people who smoked prior to surgery, offered a smoking cessation intervention, and measured preoperative and long-term abstinence from smoking and/or the incidence of postoperative complications.


The authors independently assessed studies to determine eligibility. Results were discussed between the authors.


Eight trials enrolling a total of 1156 people met the inclusion criteria. One of these did not report cessation as an outcome. Two trials initiated multisession face to face counselling at least 6 weeks before surgery whilst six used a brief intervention. Nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) was offered or recommended to some or all participants in seven trials. Six trials detected significantly increased smoking cessation at the time of surgery, and one approached significance. Subgroup analyses showed that both intensive and brief intervention significantly increased smoking cessation at the time of surgery; pooled RR 10.76 (95% confidence interval (CI) 4.55 to 25.46, two trials) and RR 1.41 (95% CI 1.22 to 1.63, five trials) respectively. Four trials evaluating the effect on long-term smoking cessation found a significant effect; pooled RR 1.61 (95% CI 1.12 to 2.33). However, when pooling intensive and brief interventions separately, only intensive intervention retained a significant effect on long-term smoking cessation; RR 2.96 (95% CI 1.57 to 5.55, two trials).Five trials examined the effect of smoking intervention on postoperative complications. Pooled risk ratios were 0.70 (95% CI 0.56 to 0.88) for developing any complication; and 0.70 (95% CI 0.51 to 0.95) for wound complications. Exploratory subgroup analyses showed a significant effect of intensive intervention on any complications; RR 0.42 (95% CI 0.27 to 0.65) and on wound complications RR 0.31 (95% CI 0.16 to 0.62). For brief interventions the effect was not statistically significant but CIs do not rule out a clinically significant effect (RR 0.96 (95% CI 0.74 to 1.25) for any complication, RR 0.99 (95%CI 0.70 to 1.40) for wound complications).


There is evidence that preoperative smoking interventions including NRT increase short-term smoking cessation and may reduce postoperative morbidity. The optimal preoperative intervention intensity remains unknown. Based on indirect comparisons and evidence from two small trials, interventions that begin four to eight weeks before surgery, include weekly counselling, and use NRT are more likely to have an impact on complications and on long-term smoking cessation.

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