Anxiety and depression increase risk of surgical wound complication

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Experts suggest psychological health should be assessed before surgery.

Patients’ psychological health may affect their risk of experiencing wound-related complications after surgery, finds a new study published in the British Journal of Surgery .

After examining data relating to 177,000 patients undergoing hip replacements, knee replacements, hernia repairs, and varicose vein operations, the study’s authors found the likelihood of experiencing wound complications after a hip replacement were 1.17-times greater for patients with moderate anxiety or depression. Patients with moderate anxiety or depression also had a 1.20-times greater likelihood of being readmitted for wound complications and had longer durations of hospital stay on average. Similar results were seen across all types of operations and were larger for patients with extreme anxiety or depression.

Lead author, Philip Britteon said the relationship needs to be examined further in order to understand the mechanisms and potential opportunities for intervention.

“The study also emphasises the importance of the psychological state before surgery, and the fact that psychological disorders are often overlooked. Preoperative assessment should address psychological as well as physical health, given the significant impact of anxiety/depression on wound-related complications and readmissions,” he said.

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