More than 28 million elective surgeries across the globe could be cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with orthopaedic procedures likely to be among the hardest hit, according to a new CovidSurg Collaborative study.
The CovidSurg Collaborative has projected that, based on a 12-week period of peak disruption to hospital services due to Covid-19, 28.4 million elective surgeries worldwide will be cancelled or postponed in 2020.
The modelling study, published in the British Journal of Surgery, indicates that each additional week of disruption to hospital services will be associated with a further 2.4 million cancellations.
Led by researchers at the University of Birmingham, the CovidSurg Collaborative team collected detailed information from surgeons across 359 hospitals and 71 countries on plans for cancellation of elective surgery. This data was then statistically modelled to estimate totals for cancelled surgery across 190 countries.
The researchers project that worldwide 72.3% of planned surgeries would be cancelled through the peak period of Covid-19-related disruption.
Most cancelled surgeries will be for non-cancer conditions, but orthopaedic procedures will be cancelled most frequently, with 6.3 million cancelled worldwide over a 12-week period. It is also projected that globally 2.3 million cancer surgeries will be cancelled or postponed.
Aneel Bhangu, Consultant Surgeon and Senior Lecturer at the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery at the University of Birmingham, commented: “During the Covid-19 pandemics elective surgeries have been cancelled to reduce the risk of patients being exposed to Covid-19 in hospital, and to support the wider hospital response, for example by converting operating theatres in to intensive care units.”
“Although essential, cancellations place a heavy burden on patients and society. Patients’ conditions may deteriorate, worsening their quality of life as they wait for rescheduled surgery. In some cases, for example cancer, delayed surgeries may lead to a number of unnecessary deaths.”
Dr Dmitri Nepogodiev, Research Fellow at the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery at the University of Birmingham, said: “Each additional week of disruption to hospital services results in an additional 43,300 surgeries being cancelled, so it is important that hospitals regularly assess the situation so that elective surgery can be resumed at the earliest opportunity.”