Radical esophagectomy for thoracic esophageal cancer is invasive and frequently results in postoperative pulmonary complications. Postoperative pneumonia is the most common such complication and affects hospital mortality and survival rates. Oral care has been very effective in reducing pneumonia. In Japan, preoperative professional oral care is highly recommended. However, there are few studies on the effect of preoperative improvements in oral hygiene as a result of intervention on the incidence of postoperative pneumonia. The primary end-point of this retrospective study was the incidence of postoperative pneumonia after radical esophagectomy. The oral health levels of 46 patients were individually categorized, and then patients were grouped according to whether they maintained or improved their oral hygiene. At the first dental examination, oral health levels were classified as good in 22 patients and bad in 24. Of the 46 patients studied, 39 patients maintained or improved their oral hygiene (good control group), whereas 7 showed no improvement (bad control group). Postoperative pneumonia occurred in eight patients: four in the good control group and four in the bad control group. Statistical analysis with postoperative pneumonia as a dependent variable showed a significant effect of oral hygiene improvement on the incidence of pneumonia. Logistic regression analysis with this factor as an independent variable demonstrated that the risk of postoperative pneumonia was reduced in the good control group (OR 0.086, 95% CI 0.014-0.529). Therefore, preoperative professional oral care may improve oral hygiene and oral health, which may in turn reduce the incidence of postoperative pneumonia.
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