March 10, 2021

Large study concludes surgery should be delayed 7 weeks after COVID-19 diagnosis

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

A new international study with more than 15,000 coauthors from 116 countries concludes that surgical procedures should be delayed for 7 weeks after a patient tests positive for COVID-19, to reduce postoperative mortality risk.

The analysis of 140,231 patients undergoing surgical procedures in 1,674 hospitals in October 2020 found that the adjusted 30-day mortality was:


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  • 1.5% in patients having surgery who did not have COVID-19
  • 4.1% in patients having surgery at 0-2 weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis
  • 3.9% in patients having surgery at 3-4 weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis
  • 3.6% in patients having surgery at 5-6 weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis
  • 1.5% in patients having surgery at 7-8 weeks after a COVID-19 diagnosis.

The findings were consistent across age groups, fitness levels, elective vs emergency surgery, and minor vs major procedures.

There is a backlog of millions of elective surgical procedures that were cancelled early in the COVID-19 pandemic. This study offers evidence to support the safe restarting of surgery in the context of the rapidly increasing number of people who have survived COVID-19, the researchers conclude.

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