Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has resulted in a global pandemic with several hundred million infections worldwide. COVID-19 causes systemic complications that last beyond the initial infection. It is not known whether patients who undergo elective orthopaedic surgeries after COVID-19 are at increased risk of complications. The purpose of this study was to evaluate whether patients who undergo orthopaedic procedures after recent COVID-19 diagnosis are at increased risk of complications compared with those who have not had a recent COVID-19 diagnosis.
The TriNetX Research Network database was queried for patients undergoing elective orthopaedic surgeries from April 2020 to January 2022 in the following subspecialties: arthroscopic surgery, total joint arthroplasty, lumbar fusion, upper extremity surgery, foot and ankle (FA) surgery. Cohorts were defined by patients undergoing surgery with a diagnosis of COVID-19 from 7 to 90 days before surgery and those with no COVID-19 diagnosis 0 to 90 days before surgery. These cohorts were propensity-score matched based on differences in demographics and comorbidities. The matched cohorts were evaluated using measures of association analysis for complications, emergency department (ER) visits, and readmissions occurring 90 days postoperatively.
Patients undergoing arthroscopic surgery were more likely to experience venous thromboembolism (VTE) (P = 0.006), myocardial infarction (P = 0.001), and ER visits (P = 0.001). Patients undergoing total joint arthroplasty were more likely to experience VTE (P < 0.001), myocardial infarction (P < 0.001), pneumonia (P< 0.001), and ER visits (P = 0.037). Patients undergoing lumbar fusion were more likely to experience VTE (P = 0.016), infection (P < 0.001), pneumonia (P < 0.001), and readmission (P = 0.006). Patients undergoing upper extremity surgery were more likely to experience VTE (P = 0.001) and pneumonia (P = 0.015). Patients undergoing foot and ankle surgery were more likely to experience VTE (P < 0.001) and pneumonia (P < 0.001).
There is an increased risk of complications in patients undergoing orthopaedic surgery after COVID-19 infection; all cohorts were at increased risk of VTE and most at increased risk of pneumonia. Additional investigation is needed to stratify the risk for individual patients.