Is perioperative COVID-19 really associated with worse surgical outcomes? A nationwide COVIDSurg propensity-matched analysis.

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BACKGROUND: Patients undergoing surgery with perioperative COVID-19 are suggested to have worse outcomes, but whether this is COVID-related or due to selection bias remains unclear. We aimed to compare the postoperative outcomes of patients with and without perioperative COVID-19.

METHODS: Patients with perioperative COVID-19 diagnosed within 7 days before or 30 days after surgery between February and July 2020 from 68 US hospitals in COVIDSurg, an international multicenter database, were 1:1 propensity score matched to patients without COVID-19 undergoing similar procedures in the 2012 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program database. The matching criteria included demographics (e.g., age, sex), comorbidities (e.g., diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic kidney disease), and operation characteristics (e.g., type, urgency, complexity). The primary outcome was 30-day hospital mortality. Secondary outcomes included hospital length of stay and 13 postoperative complications (e.g., pneumonia, renal failure, surgical site infection).

RESULTS: A total of 97,936 patients were included, 1,054 with and 96,882 without COVID-19. Prematching, COVID-19 patients more often underwent emergency surgery (76.1% vs. 10.3%, p < 0.001). A total of 843 COVID-19 and 843 non-COVID-19 patients were successfully matched based on demographics, comorbidities, and operative characteristics. Postmatching, COVID-19 patients had a higher mortality (12.0% vs. 8.1%, p = 0.007), longer length of stay (6 [2-15] vs. 5 [1-12] days), and higher rates of acute renal failure (19.3% vs. 3.0%, p < 0.001), sepsis (13.5% vs. 9.0%, p = 0.003), and septic shock (11.8% vs. 6.0%, p < 0.001). They also had higher rates of thromboembolic complications such as deep vein thrombosis (4.4% vs. 1.5%, p < 0.001) and pulmonary embolism (2.5% vs. 0.4%, p < 0.001) but lower rates of bleeding (11.6% vs. 26.1%, p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Patients undergoing surgery with perioperative COVID-19 have higher rates of 30-day mortality and postoperative complications, especially thromboembolic, compared with similar patients without COVID-19 undergoing similar surgeries. Such information is crucial for the complex surgical decision making and counseling of these patients.

LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Prognostic and Epidemiologic; Level IV.





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Medicine and Health Sciences




Department of Surgery

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