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Interact Cardiovasc Thorac Surg. 2012 Mar;14(3):320-3. doi: 10.1093/icvts/ivr093. Epub 2011 Dec 6.

Does getting smokers to stop smoking before lung resections reduce their risk?

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School of Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.


A best-evidence topic in thoracic surgery was written according to a structured protocol. The question of whether the incidence of major pulmonary morbidity after lung resection was associated with the timing of smoking cessation was addressed. Overall 49 papers were found using the reported search outlined below, of which 7 represented the best evidence to answer the clinical question. The authors, journal, date and country of publication, patient group studied, study type, relevant outcomes and results of these papers are tabulated. In most studies, smoking abstinence was shown to reduce the incidence of post-operative pulmonary complications (PPCs) such as pneumonia, respiratory distress, atelectasis, air leakage, bronchopleural fistula and re-intubation. The timing of cessation is not clearly identified, although there is some evidence showing reduction in risk of PPCs with increasing interval since cessation. Two studies suggested that smoking abstinence for at least 4 weeks prior to surgery was necessary in order to reduce the incidence of major pulmonary events. Furthermore, it was also shown that a pre-operative smoke-free period of >10 weeks produced complication rates similar to those of patients who had never smoked. We conclude that smoking cessation reduces the risk of PPCs. All patients should be advised and counseled to stop smoking before any form of lung resection.

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