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AAOS: Smoking, Obesity Complicate Spine Surgery

Study finds that both lifestyle factors increase the risk of post-operative complications

FRIDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- Smokers are more likely than non-smokers to require spine surgery for low-back pain and experience post-operative complications when they do, and obese patients are more likely than those of normal weight to have post-operative complications and pain, according to research presented this week at the 74th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in San Diego.

Kingsley R. Chin, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania Medical School in Philadelphia, and colleagues studied 185 patients who had spine surgery for non-traumatic back pain.

The researchers found that smokers were 148 percent more likely than non-smokers to present with back pain requiring surgery. They also found that each increase in body mass index of 5 kg/m2 was associated with a significantly increased risk of post-operative pain and complications (97 percent and 44 percent, respectively). Although they did not find a link between smoking and an increased risk of post-operative pain, they found that smokers had a 370 percent increased risk of complications.

"This study is the latest warning signal about the dangers of smoking and obesity," Chin said in a statement. "For patients who are already in these at-risk categories, our study should serve as further incentive to stop smoking and try to maintain a healthy weight."

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