The effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on orthopedic surgeries in a tertiary referral center
Department of Orthopedics and Traumatology, Hacettepe University Faculty of Medicine, Ankara, Turkey
Keywords: COVID-19, elective surgical procedure, orthopedic surgery, pandemic, trauma
Objectives: The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of the novel coronavirus-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic on the operational trends in the orthopedic surgery department of a tertiary referral center.
Patients and methods: A total of 305 orthopedic surgical procedures in 245 patients (136 males, 109 females; mean age: 34±26.6 years; range, 0 to 91 years) between March 16th and June 27th, 2020 were retrospectively analyzed. The same period of the year before including 860 procedures in 783 patients (364 males, 419 females; mean age: 33.6±25.8 years; range, 0 to 95 years) was also reviewed as a pre-pandemic control group. Patient demographics, surgical indications, COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test status, method of anesthesia, surgical subspecialties (trauma, sports, etc.), trauma mechanisms, and surgical priorities were evaluated. The pandemic and the pre- pandemic periods were compared.
Results: The rate of elective surgeries decreased compared to the previous year, and priority C type surgeries had the highest frequency (42.5%). Orthopedic trauma was the leading subspecialty with 91 (29.8%) cases and had a higher share, compared to the pre-pandemic period (17.0%). Hip fractures (18.7%) were the most common cause of trauma surgery, and simple falls (42.3%) composed the largest group of trauma mechanisms, which was similar to the pre-pandemic period (hip fractures, 13.6%; simple falls, 42.5%). The distribution of surgical urgency levels and subspecialties differed significantly between the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods (p<0.001). Post- hoc analysis of subspecialty distribution revealed a significant decrease in arthroplasty (p=0.002) and hand surgery (p<0.001), and a significant increase in trauma (p<0.001) and the “other” category (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Our experience in a tertiary referral center illustrated a shift toward performing emergent and urgent surgeries, when the severity of the outbreak increased. Prioritizing surgical urgencies during the outbreak changed the orthopedic surgery practice with an emphasis on trauma and oncology surgeries. Hip fractures were the most common cause of trauma surgery, and simple falls composed the largest group of trauma mechanisms.
The authors declared no conflicts of interest with respect to the authorship and/or publication of this article.
The authors received no financial support for the research and/or authorship of this article.
We would like to acknowledge the contributions of Kimberly Hasselfeld, MS, CCRP, for the language editing of this article.