It is not 'business as usual' for orthopaedic surgeons in May 2020- the Austrian-German-Swiss experience

J Exp Orthop. 2020 Aug 8;7(1):61. doi: 10.1186/s40634-020-00272-4.


Purpose: To document the status-quo of orthopaedic health-care services as the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, and to determine the rate of resumption of orthopaedic surgery in the German-speaking countries in May 2020.

Methods: A prospective online survey was sent out to 4234 surgeons of the AGA - Society of Arthroscopy and Joint-Surgery (Gesellschaft für Arthroskopie und Gelenkchirurgie, AGA). The survey was created using SurveyMonkey software and consisted of 23 questions relating to the reduction of orthopaedic services at the participating centres and the impact that the pandemic is having on each surgeon.

Results: A total of 890 orthopaedic surgeons responded to the online survey. Approximately 90% of them experienced a reduction in their surgical caseload and patient contact. 38.7% stated that their institutions returned to providing diagnostic arthroscopies. 54.5% reported that they went back to performing anterior cruciate ligament reconstructions (ACLR), 62.6% were performing arthroscopic meniscus procedures, and 55.8% had resumed performing shoulder arthroscopy. Only 31.9% of the surgeons were able to perform elective total joint arthroplasty. 60% of the participants stated that they had suffered substantial financial loss due to the pandemic.

Conclusion: A gradual resumption of orthopaedic health-care services was observed in May 2020. Typical orthopaedic surgical procedures like ACLR, shoulder arthroscopy and elective total joint arthroplasty were reported to be currently performed by 54%, 56% and 32% of surgeons, respectively. Despite signs of improvement, it appears that there is a prolonged curtailment of orthopaedic health-care at present in the middle of Europe.

Keywords: Arthroplasty; Arthroscopy; COVID-19; Coronavirus disease 2019; Healthcare; Ligament reconstruction; Orthopaedic; SARS-CoV-2; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

Publication types

  • Review