The presence of pathogens in dental plaque is a risk factor associated with postoperative pneumonia in esophageal cancer patients. The effectiveness of pre-operative dental brushing to decrease the risk of postoperative pneumonia in esophageal cancer patients was evaluated prospectively.
A total of 86 thoracic esophageal cancer patients who underwent an esophagectomy were investigated. Patients were divided into 2 groups: the control group (41 patients) and the pre-operative dental brushing group (45 patients). The patients in the brushing group were assigned to brush their teeth 5 times a day. After the operation, the frequency of postoperative pneumonia and need for tracheostomy for pulmonary treatment was calculated.
Postoperative pneumonia was decreased markedly from 32% to 9% (P = .013), and the frequency of postoperative pneumonia requiring tracheostomy decreased from 12% to 0% in the dental brushing group, respectively. Limiting the patients who had positive pathogenic bacteria in their dental plaque on their admission, the frequency of postoperative pneumonia was decreased from 71% (5 of 7 patients) in the control group to 17% (2 of 12 patients) in the dental brushing group (P = .045).
Frequent pre-operative dental brushing is performed easily and seems to prevent postoperative pneumonia in esophageal cancer patients.
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Published online: December 11, 2009
Accepted: October 12, 2009
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