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Tooth Extraction Before Heart Surgery Increases Risk of Complications

Update Date: Feb 28, 2014 09:44 AM EST

Surgery, regardless of the level of difficulty, always comes with a risk of complications. In a new study, researchers examined the risk of undergoing cardiovascular surgery after getting a tooth extraction. The researchers found that for some people who removed an infected tooth before a big heart surgery, they were more likely to suffer from surgical complications.

The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association classify dental extractions as minor procedures that can help reduce the risk of infection and inflammation during and after cardiovascular surgery. Standard practice typically removes any abscessed or infected teeth before surgery, which reduced risk of endocarditis following the procedure. Endocarditis occurs when the inner layer of the heart becomes inflamed. However, a new study is reporting that dental extractions before heart surgery could result in complications.

"Our results... documented a higher rate of major adverse outcomes, suggesting physicians should evaluate individualized risk of anesthesia and surgery in this patient population," study author Dr. Mark M. Smith, an anesthesiologist with the Mayo Clinic, said reported by FOX News.

The researchers from Mayo Clinic discovered that patients had an eight percent incidence rate of suffering from negative side effects, which included heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and even death if they had a dental extraction procedure done prior to the surgery. The researchers calculated that overall, three percent of the dental patients died before their heart surgery.

"'Accepted wisdom' leads surgeons to request dental reviews prior to cardiac surgery in many thousands of patients annually around the world," Dr. Michael Jonathan Unsworth-White, from Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, England, said. "Dr. Smith's group asks us to question this philosophy. It is a significant departure from current thinking."

Cardiac surgeon and study researcher, Joseph A. Dearani, MD, added in the news release, "With the information from our study we cannot make a definitive recommendation for or against dental extraction prior to cardiac surgery. We recommend an individualized analysis of the expected benefit of dental extraction prior to surgery weighed against the risk of morbidity and mortality as observed in our study."

The study was published in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

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