Scientific publications

Refraining from smoking shortly before lobectomy has no influence on the risk of pulmonary complications: a case-control study on a matched population

Mar 1, 2017 | Magazine: European Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery

Rodriguez M (1,2), Gómez-Hernandez MT (3), Novoa N (3), Jiménez MF (3), Aranda JL (4), Varela G (5).


Whether or not smoking increases the risk of postoperative pulmonary complications (PPCs) in lung resection patients remains controversial. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether active smoking at the time of surgery increases the risk of PPCs compared to abstention shortly before the procedure.


We conducted a case-control study on 378 patients who underwent non-extended lobectomy in our institution. Cases were active smokers at the time of surgery, and controls were patients who quit smoking at any time up to 16 weeks before surgery. All patients received the same perioperative care, including chest physiotherapy.

The occurrence of PPCs was the considered outcome. PPCs were defined as pneumonia (American Thoracic Society criteria, 2004) or atelectasis requiring bronchoscopy.

Cases and controls were matched according to age, body mass index, forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration (FEV1%), FEV1/forced vital capacity, type of approach and diagnosis of non-small-cell lung cancer. We calculated the odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI) for PPCs.


The overall prevalence of PPCs was 4.7% (18/378); 5.3% (13 out of 244) in the active smokers group and 3.7% (5 out of 134) in the ex-smokers group. After matching, two sets of 134 patients each were compared. The prevalence was 4.5% (6/134) in active and 3.7% (5/134) in ex-smokers (OR 1.21 95% CI: 0.29-5.13, P  =   0.76).


In this population of patients strictly matched according to risk criteria for PPCs, smoking at the time of surgery was not identified as a risk variable. Therefore, the practice of postponing surgery until tobacco abstention has been achieved does not seem to be justified.

CITATION Eur J Cardiothorac Surg. 2017 Mar 1;51(3):498-503. doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezw359