Post-surgical healing slowed by mental health challenges

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Britteon: Wound complications may cancel out surgery benefits.
Britteon: Wound complications may cancel out surgery benefits.

Patients with anxiety or depression may be at a higher risk of developing wound complications after surgery, according to a recently published study.

The research, conducted by the University of Manchester in England, included data analysis of nearly 177,000 patients who underwent surgery for a hip or knee replacement, hernia repair or varicose vein. 

The research team adjusted the data for factors including patient demographics, co-morbidities such as diabetes and medications, and surgery complexity. After making those adjustments, the team found that patients with moderate depression or anxiety had 1.17 times the likelihood of developing a wound complication. 

“Patients with wound complications face longer periods of recovery, leading to an increased risk of death, higher costs of treatment, and a significantly reduced quality of life,” wrote lead researcher Philip Britteon, BSc, MSc. “The adverse impact of wound complications may even negate the benefits of the surgery.”

Patients with anxiety and depression had 1.2 times the risk of being readmitted to the hospital for a wound complication, and had longer lengths of hospital stays.

The results were similar across all surgery types, Britteon said, and indicate a need to consider patients' psychological health, before and after surgery, in regards to surgical wound healing.