STUDY: Link between cannabis use and higher surgery complications

Regional News

A man smokes a joint during a demonstration for the decriminalization of cannabis. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new study by researchers at a Brooklyn hospital found a link between cannabis use disorder and higher surgery complications from total knee replacement. The findings were presented at the New York State Society of Orthopaedic Surgeon’s (NYSSOS) annual meeting and symposium in October.

Researchers at Maimonides Medical Center collected data on more than 50,000 patients who had undergone total knee replacement surgeries. Almost 10,000 of those patients had a diagnosis of cannabis use disorder (CUD). The disorder is generally defined as the persistent use of cannabis leading to impairment and social restraint.

The study found:

  • The majority of patients undergoing total knee replacement with CUD are between 45 and 65 years old.
  • CUD patients were found to have nearly twice as long of an in-hospital stay after surgery (about 4 days compared to 2 days).
  • CUD patients were 1.5 times more likely to have a medical complication, such as pneumonia, respiratory failure or heart attack, within 90 days after surgery.
  • CUD patients were found to be up to 56 percent more likely to experience complications, such as loosening or infection, within two years of their knee replacement.
  • Surgery costs were found to be nearly 20 percent higher for those with CUD

“The study strongly suggests that all of the impacts of broader cannabis use are not yet fully understood, and that more research and diligent impact analysis is necessary as we move forward,” said NYSSOS President Dr. John DiPreta. “We are hopeful that the state’s cannabis policy makers and regulators move cautiously, and more importantly, reflect on the health of all New Yorkers as they implement New York’s legalized cannabis program to ensure that any potential unanticipated consequences of increased cannabis use are effectively addressed and, if possible, mitigated.”

The full study has been submitted for publication to the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and is currently under review.

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