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Surgery. 2019 Feb;165(2):406-411. doi: 10.1016/j.surg.2018.07.039. Epub 2018 Sep 13.

Does active smoking really matter before ventral hernia repair? An AHSQC analysis.

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Cleveland Clinic Department of General Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Comprehensive Hernia Center, OH. Electronic address:
Cleveland Clinic Department of General Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Comprehensive Hernia Center, OH.



Many studies implicate active smoking as a risk factor for postoperative wound complications and all 30-day morbidity, but the definitions of inclusion and exclusion criteria as well as outcome parameters are inconsistent. Critically, the ability of large databases and meta-analyses to generate statistically significant associations of active smoking with morbidity do not address whether those relationships are actually clinically meaningful. We investigated this relationship after open ventral hernia repair.


Patients undergoing elective open ventral hernia repair in clean wounds with 30-day follow-up were extracted from the Americas Hernia Society Quality Collaborative. Current smokers (within 30 days of surgery) were 1:1 propensity matched to patients who had never smoked based on demographics, comorbidities, and operative characteristics. Wound complications and all 30-day morbidity were assessed.


After matching 418 current smokers to 418 patients who had never smoked, the groups were similar with the exception of minor differences in body mass index (31.4 vs 33.3, P < .001) and incidence of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (18% vs 6%, P < .001). Rates of surgical site occurrence were greater in active smokers (12.0% vs 7.4%, P = .03) driven by increased rates of wound cellulitis (2.4% vs 1.2%) and seroma (5.5% vs 1.2%); however, rates of surgical site infection (4.1 vs 4.1, P = .98), surgical site occurrences requiring a procedural intervention (6.2% vs 5.0%, P = .43), reoperation (1.9% vs 1.2%, P = .39), and all 30-day morbidity (7.5 vs 6.6, P = .60) were not significantly increased in active smokers. There were no instances of mesh excision.


Active smoking prior to elective clean OVHR is associated with clinically insignificant differences in wound morbidity. Surgeons allowing perioperative smoking should monitor their outcomes to assure these findings are replicable in their own practice.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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