• Increased complications in patients who test COVID-19 positive after elective surgery and implications for pre and postoperative screening.

      Prasad, Nikhil K; Lake, Rachel; Englum, Brian R; Turner, Douglas J; Siddiqui, Tariq; Mayorga-Carlin, Minerva; Sorkin, John D; Lal, Brajesh K (Elsevier, 2021-04-14)
      Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the adoption of protocols to minimize risk of periprocedural complications associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. This typically involves a preoperative symptom screen and nasal swab RT-PCR test for viral RNA. Asymptomatic patients with a negative COVID-19 test are cleared for surgery. However, little is known about the rate of postoperative COVID-19 positivity among elective surgical patients, risk factors for this group and rate of complications. Methods: This prospective multicenter study included all patients undergoing elective surgery at 170 Veterans Health Administration (VA) hospitals across the United States. Patients were divided into groups based on first positive COVID-19 test within 30 days after surgery (COVID[-/+]), before surgery (COVID[+/-]) or negative throughout (COVID[-/-]). The cumulative incidence, risk factors for and complications of COVID[-/+], were estimated using univariate analysis, exact matching, and multivariable regression. Results: Between March 1 and December 1, 2020 90,093 patients underwent elective surgery. Of these, 60,853 met inclusion criteria, of which 310 (0.5%) were in the COVID[-/+] group. Adjusted multivariable logistic regression identified female sex, end stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, cancer, cirrhosis, and undergoing neurosurgical procedures as risk factors for being in the COVID[-/+] group. After matching on current procedural terminology code and month of procedure, multivariable Poisson regression estimated the complication rate ratio for the COVID[-/+] group vs. COVID[-/-] to be 8.4 (C.I. 4.9-14.4) for pulmonary complications, 3.0 (2.2, 4.1) for major complications, and 2.6 (1.9, 3.4) for any complication. Discussion: Despite preoperative COVID-19 screening, there remains a risk of COVID infection within 30 days after elective surgery. This risk is increased for patients with a high comorbidity burden and those undergoing neurosurgical procedures. Higher intensity preoperative screening and closer postoperative monitoring is warranted in such patients because they have a significantly elevated risk of postoperative complications.
    • A Nation-wide Review of Elective Surgery and COVID-Surge Capacity

      Prasad, Nikhil K; Englum, Brian R; Turner, Douglas J; Lake, Rachel; Siddiqui, Tariq; Mayorga-Carlin, Minerva; Sorkin, John D; Lal, Brajesh K (Elsevier Inc., 2021-06-19)
      Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in over 225,000 excess deaths in the United States. A moratorium on elective surgery was placed early in the pandemic to reduce risk to patients and staff and preserve critical care resources. This report evaluates the impact of the elective surgical moratorium on case volumes and intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization. Methods: This retrospective review used a national convenience sample to correlate trends in the weekly rates of surgical cases at 170 Veterans Affairs Hospitals around the United States from January 1 to September 30, 2020 to national trends in the COVID-19 pandemic. We reviewed data on weekly number of procedures performed and ICU bed usage, stratified by level of urgency (elective, urgent, emergency), and whether an ICU bed was required within 24 hours of surgery. National data on the proportion of COVID-19 positive test results and mortality rates were obtained from the Center for Disease Control website. Results: 198,911 unique surgical procedures performed during the study period. The total number of cases performed from January 1 to March 16 was 86,004 compared with 15,699 from March 17 to May 17. The reduction in volume occurred before an increase in the percentage of COVID-19 positive test results and deaths nationally. There was a 91% reduction from baseline in the number of elective surgeries performed allowing 78% of surgical ICU beds to be available for COVID-19 positive patients. Conclusion: The moratorium on elective surgical cases was timely and effective in creating bed capacity for critically ill COVID-19 patients. Further analyses will allow targeted resource allocation for future pandemic planning.
    • Partial COVID-19 vaccination associated with reduction in postoperative mortality and SARS-CoV-2 infection.

      Prasad, Nikhil K; Englum, Brian R; Mayorga-Carlin, Minerva; Turner, Douglas J; Sahoo, Shalini; Sorkin, John D; Lal, Brajesh K (Elsevier, 2022-04-08)
      BACKGROUND: There are currently no data to guide decisions about delaying surgery to achieve full vaccination. METHODS: We analyzed data from patients undergoing surgery at any of the 1,283 VA medical facilities nationwide and compared postoperative complication rates by vaccination status. RESULTS: Of 87,073 surgical patients, 20% were fully vaccinated, 15% partially vaccinated, and 65% unvaccinated. Mortality was reduced in full vaccination vs. unvaccinated (Incidence Rate Ratio 0.77, 95% CI [0.62, 0.94]) and partially vaccinated vs. unvaccinated (0.75 [0.60, 0.94]). Postoperative COVID-19 infection was reduced in fully (0.18 [0.12, 0.26]) and partially vaccinated patients (0.34 [0.24, 0.48]). Fully vaccinated compared to partially vaccinated patients, had similar postoperative mortality (1.02, [0.78, 1.33]), but had decreased COVID-19 infection (0.53 [0.32, 0.87]), pneumonia (0.75 [0.62, 0.93]), and pulmonary failure (0.79 [0.68, 0.93]). CONCLUSIONS: Full and partial vaccination reduces postoperative complications indicating the importance of any degree of vaccination prior to surgery.