COVID-19 and ENT surgery: a brief review of essential precautions and triage

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2020 Jul 11;1-5. doi: 10.1007/s00405-020-06207-0. Online ahead of print.


Purpose: This study is a brief review of the existing knowledge on the ENT surgeon's approach towards management of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. While it is being recommended to carry out only the emergent procedures and to postpone the non-urgent ones to a later date, this article is meant to provide an insight into triage of the ENT procedures and the various precautions to be taken into account by the ENT surgeons while carrying out a procedure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: The ENT Cochrane, Pubmed and Web of Science databases were searched without a time limit using the terms 'COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 in conjunction with ENT surgery.

Results: Elective and non urgent cases are best avoided during this time. Only absolutely essential and emergent procedures need to be carried out with the use of Personal protective equipment comprising of safety gown, N95 mask, safety goggles, disposable gloves and caps. There is a possibility of transmission of the SARS- CoV-2 through asymptomatic patients and hence all patients, even with an unknown COVID-19 status, need to undergo a preoperative screening. As all procedures under general anesthesia are aerosol generating, the use of Personal protective equipment (PPE) is recommended for all the health care workers present in the operation theater.

Conclusion: A proper knowledge of triage would be of immense help to the ENT surgeon in minimizing the exposure to health care workers and patients during this pandemic. All patients with an unknown COVID-19 status should be considered suspects and essential precautions for their management be taken accordingly.

Keywords: COVID-19; ENT surgeon; Precautions; Triage.

Publication types

  • Review