Perspectives from Italy during the COVID-19 pandemic: nationwide survey-based focus on minimally invasive HPB surgery

Updates Surg. 2020 Jun;72(2):241-247. doi: 10.1007/s13304-020-00815-5. Epub 2020 May 29.


The safety of minimally invasive procedures during COVID pandemic remains hotly debated, especially in a country, like Italy, where minimally invasive techniques have progressively and pervasively entered clinical practice, in both the hepatobiliary and pancreatic community. A nationwide snapshot of the management of HPB minimally invasive surgery activity during COVID-19 pandemic is provided: a survey was developed and conducted within AICEP (Italian Association of HepatoBilioPancreatic Surgeons) with the final aim of conveying the experience, knowledge, and opinions into a unitary report enabling more efficient crisis management. Results from the survey (81 respondents) show that, in Italian hospitals, minimally invasive surgery maintains its role despite the COVID-19 pandemic, with the registered reduction of cases being proportional to the overall reduction of the HPB surgical activity. Respondents agree that the switch from minimally invasive to open technique can be considered as a valid option for cases with a high technical complexity. Several issues merit specific attention: screening for virus positivity should be universally performed; only expert surgical teams should operate on positive patients and specific technical measures to lower the biological risk of contamination during surgery must be followed. Future studies specifically designed to establish the true risks in minimally invasive surgery are suggested. Furthermore, a standard and univocal process of prioritization of patients from Regional Healthcare Systems is advisable.

Keywords: COVID-19; Liver; Minimally invasive; Pancreas; Pandemic.

MeSH terms

  • Biliary Tract Diseases / surgery*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections*
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Liver Diseases / surgery*
  • Minimally Invasive Surgical Procedures*
  • Pancreatic Diseases / surgery*
  • Pandemics*
  • Pneumonia, Viral*