COVID-19 to impact general surgery procedures in US in 2020, says GlobalData

Most of the hernia procedures to be performed in the US will be delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis, with the exception of a minority of symptomatic cases, but will start to resume towards the end of the second quarter (Q2) of 2020, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData estimates that 41.1% of general surgery procedures performed in the US are essential procedures while 58.9% are elective. Of the 58.9% of procedures that are elective, the top ten procedures accounted for 42.0% of the total volume and included endoscopies, laparoscopies, biopsies, sterilization procedures, and reconstructive surgeries. The top essential procedures include removal of cancerous tumors, hernia repairs, colectomies and deliveries.

Eric Chapman, Medical Devices Analyst at GlobalData, says: “GlobalData expects that procedure rates will return to pre-COVID-19 levels by the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2020, and that the backlog of surgeries will not be cleared until Q4 2022”.

Since general surgery is grouped into essential and elective procedures, the impact of COVID-19 will depend on the urgency of the specific procedure. Furthermore, while 58.9% of procedures are considered to be elective, some cannot be delayed for long periods of time.

However, the ability to perform these surgeries will be affected by the number of available hospital beds, ventilators, and PPE, since this type of medical equipment is being used for COVID-19 patients in critical condition. Operations should only be performed if they will not result in long hospital stays, if delaying the procedure is likely to prolong future hospital stays, or if delays would cause harm to the patient.

Chapman concludes: “GlobalData predicts that procedures such as removal of a vascular access devices, reconstruction of the chest wall, cholecystectomy, and enterostomy closure will be canceled or delayed. However, these procedures are likely to resume by June, as further delays may cause risks to patients.”

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