Patient safety associated with the surgical treatment of bone and soft tissue tumours during the COVID-19 pandemic-results from an observational study at the Oxford Sarcoma Service

Int Orthop. 2020 Jul 29. doi: 10.1007/s00264-020-04736-1. Online ahead of print.


PURPOSE: Deferring cancer surgery can have profound adverse effects including patient mortality. During the COVID-19 pandemic, departmental reorganisation and adherence to evolving guidelines enabled provision of uninterrupted surgical care to patients with bone and soft tissue tumours (BST) in need of surgery. We reviewed the outcomes of surgeries on BST during the first two months of the pandemic at one of the tertiary BST centres in the UK.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: Between 12 March 2020 and 12 May 2020, 56 patients of a median age of 57 years (18-87) underwent surgery across two sites: index hospital (n = 27) and COVID-free facility (n = 29). Twenty-five (44.6%) patients were above the age of 60 years and 20 (35.7%) patients were in ASA III and ASA IV category. The decision to offer surgery was made in adherence with the guidelines issued by the NHS, BOOS and BSG.

RESULTS: At a minimum follow-up of 30 days post-surgery, 54 (96.4%) patients were recovering well. Thirteen patients (23.2%) had post-operative complications which included four (7.1%) patients developing pulmonary embolism. The majority of complications (12/13 = 92.7%) occurred in ASA III and IV category patients. Four (7.1%) patients contracted COVID-19, of which three required escalation of care due to pulmonary complications and two (3.6%) died. Patients < 60 years of age had significantly less complications than those > 60 years (p < 0.001). Patients operated on in the COVID-free facility had fewer complications compared with those operated on at the index hospital (p < 0.027).

CONCLUSION: In spite of the favourable results in majority of our patients, our study shows that patients with sarcoma operated at the height of the pandemic are at a risk of contracting COVID-19 and also having associated with mortality. The use of a COVID-free facility, surgery in patients < 60 60 years and in ASA I & II category are associated with better outcomes. If a second wave occurs, a serious consideration should be given to ways of minimising the risk of contracting COVID-19 in these vulnerable patients either by using COVID-free facilities or delaying treatment until peak of infection has passed.

PMID:32728926 | DOI:10.1007/s00264-020-04736-1