SARS-CoV-2 infection,COVID-19 and timing of elective surgery
A multidisciplinary consensus statement on behalf of the Association of Anaesthetists, the Centre for Perioperative Care, the Federation of Surgical Specialty Associations, the Royal College of Anaesthetists and the Royal College of Surgeons of England.
The scale of the COVID-19 pandemic means that a significant number of patients who have previously been infected with SARS-CoV-2 will require surgery. Given the potential for multisystem involvement, timing of surgery needs to be carefully considered to plan for safe surgery. This consensus statement uses evidence from a systematic review and expert opinion to highlight key principles in the timing of surgery. Shared decision-making regarding timing of surgery after SARS-CoV-2 infection must account for severity of the initial infection; ongoing symptoms of COVID-19; comorbid and functional status; clinical priority and risk of disease progression; and complexity of surgery. For the protection of staff, other patients and the public, planned surgery should not be considered during the period that a patient may be infectious. Precautions should be undertaken to prevent pre- and peri-operative infection, especially in higher risk patients.
Elective surgery should not be scheduled within 7 weeks of a diagnosis of SARS-CoV2 infection unless the risks of deferring surgery outweigh the risk of postoperative morbidity or mortality associated with COVID-19. SARS-CoV-2 causes either transient or asymptomatic disease for most patients, who require no additional precautions beyond a 7-week delay, but those who have persistent symptoms or have been hospitalised require special attention. Patients with persistent symptoms of COVID-19 are at increased risk of postoperative morbidity and mortality even after 7 weeks.
The time before surgery should be used for functional assessment, prehabilitation and multidisciplinary optimisation. Vaccination several weeks before surgery will reduce risk to patients and might lessen the risk of nosocomial SARSCoV-2 infection of other patients and staff. National vaccine committees should consider whether such patients can be prioritised for vaccination.
As further data emerge, these recommendations may need to be revised, but the principles presented should be considered to ensure safety of patients, the public and staff.
Read the full guideline here