Death following pulmonary complications of surgery before and during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.
STARSurg Collaborative and COVIDSurg Collaborative None.
BackgroundThis study aimed to determine the impact of pulmonary complications on death after surgery both before and during the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic.MethodsThis was a patient-level, comparative analysis of two, international prospective cohort studies: one before the pandemic (January-October 2019) and the second during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic (local emergence of COVID-19 up to 19 April 2020). Both included patients undergoing elective resection of an intra-abdominal cancer with curative intent across five surgical oncology disciplines. Patient selection and rates of 30-day postoperative pulmonary complications were compared. The primary outcome was 30-day postoperative mortality. Mediation analysis using a natural-effects model was used to estimate the proportion of deaths during the pandemic attributable to SARS-CoV-2 infection.ResultsThis study included 7402 patients from 50 countries; 3031 (40.9 per cent) underwent surgery before and 4371 (59.1 per cent) during the pandemic. Overall, 4.3 per cent (187 of 4371) developed postoperative SARS-CoV-2 in the pandemic cohort. The pulmonary complication rate was similar (7.1 per cent (216 of 3031) versus 6.3 per cent (274 of 4371); P = 0.158) but the mortality rate was significantly higher (0.7 per cent (20 of 3031) versus 2.0 per cent (87 of 4371); P ConclusionAlthough providers may have selected patients with a lower risk profile for surgery during the pandemic, this did not mitigate the likelihood of death through SARS-CoV-2 infection. Care providers must act urgently to protect surgical patients from SARS-CoV-2 infection.