June 2, 2020

Study: Response of cardiac surgery units to COVID-19

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study found reduced cardiac surgery activity, redeployed personnel, and curtailed educational and research activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Survey respondents from 60 cardiac surgery centers in 19 countries said they had reduced their cardiac surgical procedures by an average of 50% to 75% in response to the pandemic.


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A third of the centers reported more than 50% reduction in the number of dedicated cardiac ORs and ICU beds. Most centers restricted cardiac surgery to urgent/emergent cases, and 5% cancelled all cases including emergencies.

The negative effects of such suspension of elective cardiac surgical procedures are unclear, but data from healthcare systems where surgery is routinely deferred because of limited capacity have shown increased operative mortality in patients on a cardiac surgery waitlist.

The widespread interruption in cardiac surgery adds to the concern that excess non-COVID-19 mortality may now surpass mortality directly related to COVID-19 infections, the authors say.

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