Increased Complications of Emergent Surgical Procedures During the First Wave of COVID-19.




Sky Ridge Medical Center

Document Type


Publication Date



Appendectomies, COVID-19, Cholecystectomies, Complications, Craniotomies, Emergent surgery, Exploratory laparotomies and ERCP


Surgery | Surgical Procedures, Operative


INTRODUCTION: Based on recommendations by CMS elective surgery was stopped during the first wave of COVID-19. Despite hospitals being open for emergent surgery, there were some studies that showed a decrease in surgical volume.

METHODS: A retrospective analysis for all surgeries from 185 affiliated hospitals from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 2020 to May 2020) and as a comparison the previous year, March 2019 to May 2019 were obtained. Five surgeries were further analyzed: appendectomies, cholecystectomies, craniotomies, exploratory laparotomies, and endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatographies (ERCPs).

RESULTS: Between March 2019 and May 2019, 326,726 surgeries were performed, and between March 2020 and May 2020, 237,809 surgeries were performed. The highest specialty for both years was gastroenterology. In 2020, 15.7% of the patients were admitted to the ICU versus 13.7% in 2019. For appendectomies, cholecystectomies, craniotomies, exploratory laparotomies and ERCPs, there was an increase from 2019 to 2020 in acute kidney injuries rate, infection, systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and sepsis. All the changes in surgical volumes for the five surgeries from 2019 to 2020 were significant. For appendectomy, the statistically significant complications were infection and SIRS and sepsis.

CONCLUSIONS: Across the board, there was a decrease in surgical volume during the COVID-19 pandemic first wave. There was a statistically significant decrease in appendectomy, cholecystectomy, exploratory laparotomy, craniotomy, and ERCP. For all five surgeries, we did see an increase in mortality rates and several complications. The only statistically significant complications were infection and SIRS and sepsis, for appendectomy.

Publisher or Conference

Journal of Surgical Research