THURSDAY, Aug. 18, 2022 (HealthDay News) — There was a substantial decrease in surgical procedure volumes during the COVID-19 peak, and volumes recovered partially during the post-COVID-19-peak period, according to a study published online Aug. 18 in JAMA Network Open.

Soham Ghoshal, from Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues quantified changes in the volume of surgical procedures at an academic quaternary care center from Jan. 6, 2019, to Dec. 31, 2021. A total of 129,596 surgical procedures were retrospectively analyzed during four periods: pre-COVID-19 (Jan. 6, 2019, to Jan. 4, 2020), COVID-19 peak (March 15, 2020, to May 2, 2020), post-COVID-19 peak (May 3, 2020, to Jan. 2, 2021), and postvaccine release (Jan. 3, 2021, to Dec. 31, 2021).

The researchers found that the overall weekly surgical procedure volumes decreased 44.6 percent during the COVID-19 peak from pre-COVID-19 levels (mean procedures per week, 406.00 versus 732.37). This decrease occurred across all surgical subspecialties. Overall weekly surgical volumes recovered to 85.8 percent of pre-COVID-19-peak volumes during the post-COVID-19-peak period (mean procedures per week, 624.31). Across subspecialties and case classes, this recovery was inconsistent. Some subspecialties experienced recovery to pre-COVID-19 volumes during the postvaccine release period, but others continued to experience decreases.

“Future studies should aim to quantify the longer-term associations of the pandemic with surgical care by examining the impact of the delta and the omicron variants into 2022 and beyond,” the authors write.

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