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Does COVID-19 infection change the need for future surgical interventions? An exploratory analysis


Background — It is unknown whether recovery from coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection leads to an increased need for common surgical procedures. Our objective was to conduct an exploratory analysis of surgical procedures performed after a documented COVID-19 infection.

Methods — We conducted a retrospective cohort study using routinely collected data from the province of Ontario, Canada. We identified individuals with a positive COVID-19 test between February 1 2020 and May 31 2020, and matched them 1:2 with individuals who had a negative COVID-19 test during the same period. We used physician billing codes to identify the ten most frequent surgical procedures in the COVID-19 cohort. An at-risk period 30 days after the first positive COVID-19 swab (or matched index date in the control group) until November 30 2020 was used. Cox proportional hazard models (adjusted for important baseline differences) are reported with hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals.

Results — After exclusions and matching, we had 19,143 people in the COVID-19 cohort, and 38,286 people in the control cohort. The top ten surgical procedures were hand/wrist fracture fixation, cesarean-section, ureteral stent placement, cholecystectomy, treatment of an upper tract urinary stone, hysterectomy, femur fracture repair, hip replacement, transurethral prostatectomy, and appendectomy. There was a significantly reduced hazard of requiring upper tract renal stone surgery (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] 0.50, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.29-0.87) or ureteral stent placement (aHR 0.54, 95%CI 0.36-0.82), or undergoing a cholecystectomy (aHR 0.43, 95%CI 0.26-0.71) among those with a prior positive COVID-19 test.

Conclusions — After a COVID-19 infection there is not an increased risk of needing several common surgical procedures. There appears to be a reduced risk of renal stone disease treatment and ureteral stent placement, and a reduced risk of cholecystectomy, however understanding the reasons for this will require further study.



Welk B, Richards L. F1000 Res. 2021; 10:1167. Epub 2021 Nov 17.

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