Infection prevention measures for orthopaedic departments during the COVID-2019 pandemic: a review of current evidence

Bone Jt Open. 2020 Oct 27;1(4):74-79. doi: 10.1302/2633-1462.14.BJO-2020-0018.R1. eCollection 2020 Apr.


Aim: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic presents significant challenges to healthcare systems globally. Orthopaedic surgeons are at risk of contracting COVID-19 due to their close contact with patients in both outpatient and theatre environments. The aim of this review was to perform a literature review, including articles of other coronaviruses, to formulate guidelines for orthopaedic healthcare staff.

Methods: A search of Medline, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, World Health Organization (WHO), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) databases was performed encompassing a variety of terms including 'coronavirus', 'covid-19', 'orthopaedic', 'personal protective environment' and 'PPE'. Online database searches identified 354 articles. Articles were included if they studied any of the other coronaviruses or if the basic science could potentially applied to COVID-19 (i.e. use of an inactivated virus with a similar diameter to COVID-19). Two reviewers independently identified and screened articles based on the titles and abstracts. 274 were subsequently excluded, with 80 full-text articles retrieved and assessed for eligibility. Of these, 66 were excluded as they compared personal protection equipment to no personal protection equipment or referred to prevention measures in the context of bacterial infections.

Results: There is a paucity of high quality evidence surrounding COVID-19. This review collates evidence from previous coronavirus outbreaks to put forward recommendations for orthopaedic surgeons during the COVID-19 pandemic. The key findings have been summarized and interpreted for application to the orthopaedic operative setting.

Conclusion: For COVID-19 positive patients, minimum suggested PPE includes N95 respirator, goggles, face shield, gown, double gloves, and surgical balaclava.Space suits not advised.Be trained in the correct technique of donning and doffing PPE.Use negative pressure theatres if available.Minimize aerosolization and its effects (smoke evacuation and no pulse lavage).Minimize further unnecessary patient-staff contact (dissolvable sutures, clear dressings, split casts).

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; coronavirus; facemasks; orthopaedics; personal protective equipment; theatre.