MONDAY, Aug. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Isolation before elective surgery seems to be associated with a small but significantly increased risk for postoperative pulmonary complications, according to a study published online Aug. 9 in Anesthesia.

Researchers from the NIHR Global Health Research Unit on Global Surgery in Birmingham, England, and colleagues performed an international prospective cohort study involving patients undergoing elective surgery in October 2020. Data were included for 96,454 patients from 114 countries; of these, 27.9 percent isolated before surgery, defined as not leaving their house or receiving visitors from outside their household.

The researchers identified postoperative pulmonary complications in 2.0 percent of patients, of which 11.7 percent were associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The overall rates of postoperative pulmonary complications were similar for those who did and did not isolate (2.1 versus 2.0 percent); however, after adjustment, isolation was associated with increased rates of postoperative pulmonary complications (adjusted odds ratio, 1.20). No further differences were observed when patients were categorized according to preoperative testing, use of COVID-19-free pathways, or community prevalence of SARS-CoV-2. There was an increase in the rate of postoperative pulmonary complications with isolation periods of longer than three days (odds ratios, 1.25 and 1.31 for four to seven and at least eight days, respectively).

“Relaxation of preoperative isolation policies appears to be safe for individual patients, especially in the presence of preoperative testing, which this and previous studies showed to be beneficial,” the authors write.

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