Reducing post-op complications after cancer surgery

Improving patients’ oral hygiene is an option for preventing postoperative pneumonia that may be caused by aspiration of oral secretions. Whether preoperative oral care by a dentist can decrease postoperative complications remains controversial. A retrospective study was undertaken to assess the association between preoperative oral care and postoperative complications among patients who underwent major cancer surgery.

The nationwide administrative claims database in Japan was analyzed. Patients were identified who underwent resection of head and neck, esophageal, gastric, colorectal, lung or liver cancer between May 2012 and December 2015. The primary outcomes were postoperative pneumonia and all‐cause mortality within 30 days of surgery.

Of 509,179 patients studied, 81,632 (16·0 per cent) received preoperative oral care from a dentist. A total of 15,724 patients (3·09 per cent) had postoperative pneumonia and 1734 (0·34 per cent) died within 30 days of surgery. Preoperative oral care by a dentist was significantly associated with a decrease in postoperative pneumonia (3·28 versus 3·76 per cent and all‐cause mortality within 30 days of surgery (0·30 versus 0·42 per cent).

The bottom line: Preoperative oral care by a dentist significantly reduced postoperative complications in patients who underwent cancer surgery.

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