Covid-19 Patients Should Delay Surgery To Reduce Death Risk: Study

A global study, including Malaysian hospitals, found Covid-19 patients operated on within six weeks after Covid-19 diagnosis faced higher risk of postoperative death, as well as patients with ongoing symptoms at the time of surgery.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 10 — Covid-19 patients are more than 2.5 times more likely to die after an operation if their surgery occurred within six weeks after Covid-19 diagnosis, a global study found.

The study by COVIDSurg Collaborative — which was published in journal Anaesthesia — also found increased risk of postoperative death for patients with ongoing Covid-19 symptoms at the time of surgery.

“Surgery should be delayed for seven weeks after a patient tests positive for Covid-19, as operations taking place up to six weeks after diagnosis are associated with increased risk of deaths, according to a new global study,” the College of Surgeons, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, said in a statement today.

Data from 140,727 patients in 1,674 hospitals across 116 countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, India, UK, US, and Malaysia, discovered that patients operated on within six weeks of their Covid-19 diagnosis were at increased risk of postoperative death.

“While it is known that infection with SARS-CoV-2 during surgery increases mortality and international guidelines recommend surgery should be delayed for patients testing positive for Covid-19, there is little evidence regarding the optimal duration of delay.

“It is, however, important to contextualize the application of these findings. Life-saving surgery should not be delayed, and the impact of mass vaccination will need to be evaluated in due course,” said Dr April Camilla Roslani, who is the national study lead for Malaysia. 

Meanwhile, following a surgery delay of seven weeks or more, patients with ongoing Covid-19 symptoms (6.0 per cent) had higher mortality than those who had their symptoms resolved (2.4 per cent), and asymptomatic ones (1.3 per cent). 

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