Considerations for Continuing Semielective and Emergency Otolaryngological Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Ear Nose Throat J
INTRODUCTION: During the COVID-19 pandemic, worldwide over 600,000 human beings died due to the cause of the disease. In order to deescalate the transmission rate and to avoid crush loading the countries medical health systems social distancing, face masks, and lockdowns have been considered essential by the majority of governments. Whereas some countries have highly reduced or completely stopped otorhinolaryngological procedures, other countries have continued selected surgeries. The objective of this study was to analyze procedures and outcomes of continuing semielective and emergency surgeries during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHODS: Retrospective analysis of n = 750 patients who received semi-elective or emergency surgery between March 26 and June 16, 2020, in the Otolaryngology Department of the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. All patients were screened for COVID symptoms and swabbed for SARS-CoV-2 prior to surgery. RESULTS: Of the n = 750 patients, n = 699 patients received semielective surgery and n = 51 emergency surgery. For 27 patients, the swab result could not be awaited due to a life-threatening condition. In these cases, surgery was performed in full protective equipment. No patient was tested positive during or after the surgery (follow-up 45 to 127 days). No member of the medical personnel showed symptoms or was tested positive after contact with patients. Due to the continuation of surgeries, patients' lives were saved and improvement of long-term quality-of-life and outcomes is anticipated. CONCLUSIONS: Continuing selected otorhinolaryngological surgeries is crucial for patients' health, survival, and long-time quality of life, yet, the protection of the medical personnel has to be granted.