A retrospective study of 30 patients (12 alcoholics and 18 nonalcoholics) was performed to determine whether
the fracture healing time (T) was longer in alcoholics and smokers. Fracture healing time (mean ± standard error) was
longer in alcoholics (24.1 ± 5.8 weeks vs. 11.4 ±1.1 weeks in nonalcoholics, p=0.001) and in 21 smokers (15.8 ± 2.9
weeks) vs. 9 nonsmokers (18.2 ± 5.9 weeks) (p=0.045). Delayed union, defined as T > 26 weeks, was more prevalent in
alcoholics (4 out of 12) than in nonalcoholics (0 out of 18) (p = 0.018). Experimental evidence from fracture healing
studies in ethanol-fed rats indicates that ethanol adversely affects the early stages of fracture healing. Findings in this
preliminary study are consistent with this hypothesis, but are based on small number of patients. Nevertheless, they
suggest that standard orthopedic treatments may not be sufficient to prevent delay of fracture healing in alcoholics.