Introduction: In December 2019 following an outbreak of Novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19) in Wuhan, China, it spread rapidly overwhelming the healthcare systems globally. With little knowledge of COVID-19 virus, very few published reports on surgical outcomes; hospitals stopped elective surgery, whilst emergency surgery was offered only after exhausting all conservative treatment modalities.
Aim: This study presents our experience of outcomes of emergency appendectomies performed during the pandemic.
Methods: Prospectively we collected data on 132 patients in peak pandemic period from 1st March to 5th June 2020 and data compared with 206 patients operated in similar period in 2019. Patient demographics, presenting symptoms, pre-operative events, investigations, surgical management, postoperative outcomes and complications were analysed.
Results: Demographics and ASA grades of both cohorts were comparable. In study cohort 84.4% and 96.7% in control cohort had laparoscopic appendicectomy. Whilst the study cohort had 13.6% primary open operations, control cohort had 5.3%. Mean length of stay and early post-operative complications (<30 days) were similar in both cohorts apart from surgical site infections (p = 0.02) and one mortality in study cohort.
Conclusion: In these overwhelming pandemic times, although conservative treatment of acute appendicitis is an option, a proportion of patients will need surgery. Our study shows that with careful planning and strict theatre protocols, emergency appendicectomy can be safely offered with minimal risk of spreading COVID-19 infection. These observations warrant further prospective randomised studies.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.