Tooth Extractions Before Cardiac Surgery Don’t Fully Eliminate Problems

Having a tooth extracted before heart surgery doesn’t guarantee a positive outcome.

Mayo Clinic research indicates that about one of 10 cardiac surgery patients ended up having a stroke or kidney failure even after having a tooth pulled before the procedure. The information appears in The Annals of Thoracic Surgery.

Prosthetic heart valve-caused endocarditis results in about 25 percent of infective endocarditis cases and is fatal for almost 40 percent of patients who develop it. That’s why physicians try to pinpoint any risk factors, such as poor dental health, prior to surgery. Extracting diseased teeth is common but there isn’t much research suggesting whether or not it truly helps.

This study shows that the risk for patients who have teeth removed prior to surgery may be larger than one would expect.

To compile the data, researchers explored outcomes in 205 adult Mayo patients whom had teeth pulled before cardiovascular surgery. The study covered a 10-year stretch from January 2003 through February 2003. The median age of the patients was 62 and 80 percent were men.

The average time between having a tooth pulled and having heart surgery was one week, during which 3 percent of the patients died. Six more patients died while still in the hospital after heart surgery. A total of 14 more patients needed to push back the heart surgery based on complications or discoveries during dental surgery.

The other issues, in addition to the stress from cardiac surgery and dental surgery, could be the severity of the heart disease or the reaction to the anesthesia.

This study confirms that physicians should make certain that each patient is viewed uniquely to ensure the possible benefit or downside of having a tooth extraction before cardiac surgery.