August 18, 2022

Surgical volume changes during COVID-19

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

This study from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, finds a severe decline in surgical procedure volumes across specialties during the peak of COVID-19, and after the peak and vaccine release periods, the overall volume did not fully recover.

Of 129,956 surgical procedures analyzed during four periods from January 6, 2019, to December 31, 2021:

  • During the COVID-19 peak, overall weekly procedure volumes declined 44.6% across all specialties.
  • During the post-COVID-19 peak, overall weekly procedure volumes recovered to only 85.8% of pre-COVID-19 peak volumes across all specialties.
  • During the post-vaccine release period, some specialties recovered to pre-COVID-19 level volumes, but others continued to experience declines.

Further research and hospital-level changes are needed to address the backlog of surgical procedures, the researchers note.

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