To model the risk of admitting silent COVID-19-infected patients to surgery with subsequent risk of severe pulmonary complications and mortality.
Summary Background Data:
With millions of operations cancelled during the COVID-19 pandemic, pressure is mounting to reopen and increase surgical activity. The risk of admitting patients who have silent SARS-Cov-2 infection to surgery is not well investigated, but surgery on patients with COVID-19 is associated with poor outcomes. We aimed to model the risk of operating on nonsymptomatic infected individuals and associated risk of perioperative adverse outcomes and death.
We developed 2 sets of models to evaluate the risk of admitting silent COVID-19-infected patients to surgery. A static model let the underlying infection rate (R rate) and the gross population-rate of surgery vary. In a stochastic model, the dynamics of the COVID-19 prevalence and a fixed population-rate of surgery was considered. We generated uncertainty intervals (UIs) for our estimates by running low and high scenarios using the lower and upper 90% uncertainty limits. The modelling was applied for high-income regions (eg, United Kingdom (UK), USA (US) and European Union without UK (EU27), and for the World (WORLD) based on the WHO standard population.
Both models provided concerning rates of perioperative risk over a 24-months period. For the US, the modelled rates were 92,000 (UI 68,000–124,000) pulmonary complications and almost 30,000 deaths (UI 22,000–40·000), respectively; for Europe, some 131,000 patients (UI 97,000–178,000) with pulmonary complications and close to 47,000 deaths (UI 34,000–63,000) were modelled. For the UK, the model suggested a median daily number of operations on silently infected ranging between 25 and 90, accumulating about 18,700 (UI 13,700–25,300) perioperative pulmonary complications and 6400 (UI 4600–8600) deaths. In high-income regions combined, we estimated around 259,000 (UI 191,000–351,000) pulmonary complications and 89,000 deaths (UI 65,000–120,000). For the WORLD, even low surgery rates estimated a global number of 1.2 million pulmonary complications and 350,000 deaths.
The model highlights a considerable risk of admitting patients with silent COVID-19 to surgery with an associated risk for adverse perioperative outcomes and deaths. Strategies to avoid excessive complications and deaths after surgery during the pandemic are needed.