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Smokers May Need More Anesthesia, Painkillers for Surgery

Last Updated: May 29, 2015.

Study finds effect seems to extend to people exposed to secondhand smoke, too.

FRIDAY, May 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers and people exposed to secondhand smoke may require more anesthesia and painkillers during surgery than nonsmokers, according to a new study.

Turkish researchers looked at 90 women who underwent surgery to remove their uterus through an incision in the abdomen -- a procedure called total abdominal hysterectomy. Smoking status was measured by levels of cotinine in the blood. Cotinine is a by-product of nicotine, the researchers said.

Compared with patients who didn't smoke, those who smoked needed 33 percent more anesthesia throughout the operation. People exposed to secondhand smoke required 20 percent more anesthesia than nonsmokers, according to the researchers.

For painkillers, smokers needed 23 percent more medication than nonsmokers to achieve the same results. People exposed to secondhand smoke required 18 percent more pain medication than nonsmokers, the study revealed.

Nicotine may affect patients' metabolism of anesthetic drugs in the liver, or may desensitize some of the nerve cells that sense pain, according to the study team led by Erdogan Ozturk, of the department of anesthesiology and intensive care at Bezmialem Vakif University in Istanbul, Turkey.

The study was scheduled to be presented Saturday at a European Society of Anaesthesiology meeting in Berlin. Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about smoking and surgery.

SOURCE: European Society of Anaesthesiology, news release, May 29, 2015


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