OBJECTIVE: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic resulted in the cessation of elective surgery . The continued provision of complex head and neck cancer surgery was extremely variable, with some UK centres not performing any cancer surgery . During the pandemic, Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust received high numbers of coronavirus disease 2019 admissions . This paper presents our experience of elective complex major head and neck cancer surgery throughout the pandemic .
METHODS: A head and neck cancer surgery hub was set up that provided a co-ordinated managed care pathway for cancer patients during the pandemic; the Guy's Cancer Centre provided a separate, self-enclosed coronavirus-free environment within the hospital campus .
RESULTS: Sixty-nine head and neck cancer patients were operated on in two months, and 13 patients had a microvascular free tissue transfer . Nosocomial infection with coronavirus disease 2019 was detected in two cases (3 per cent), neither required critical care unit admission . Both patients made a complete recovery and were discharged home . There were no deaths .
CONCLUSION: Performing major head and neck surgery, including free flap surgery, is possible during the pandemic; however, significant changes to conventional practice are required to achieve desirable patient outcomes.
Index: Coronavirus, Otolaryngology, Pandemics