Safety and Feasibility of Thoracic Malignancy Surgery During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Ann Thorac Surg. 2021 Dec;112(6):1870-1876. doi: 10.1016/j.athoracsur.2020.12.001. Epub 2020 Dec 14.

Abstract

Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has decreased surgical activity, particularly in the field of oncology, because of the suspicion of a higher risk of COVID-19-related severe events. This study aimed to investigate the feasibility and safety of thoracic cancer surgery in the most severely affected European and Canadian regions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: The study investigators prospectively collected data on surgical procedures for malignant thoracic diseases from January 1 to April 30, 2020. The study included patients from 6 high-volume thoracic surgery departments: Nancy and Strasbourg (France), Freiburg (Germany), Milan and Turin (Italy), and Montreal (Canada). The centers involved in this research are all located in the most severely affected regions of those countries. An assessment of COVID-19-related symptoms, polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed COVID-19 infection, rates of hospital and intensive care unit admissions, and death was performed for each patient. Every deceased patient was tested for COVID-19 by PCR.

Results: In the study period, 731 patients who underwent 734 surgical procedures were included. In the whole cohort, 9 cases (1.2%) of COVID-19 were confirmed by PCR, including 5 in-hospital contaminants. Four patients (0.5%) needed readmission for oxygen requirements. In this subgroup, 2 patients (0.3%) needed intensive care unit and mechanical ventilatory support. The total number of deaths in the whole cohort was 22 (3%). A single death was related to COVID-19 (0.14%).

Conclusions: Maintaining surgical oncologic activity in the era of the COVID-19 pandemic seems safe and feasible, with very low postoperative morbidity or mortality. To continue to offer the best care to patients who do not have COVID-19, reports on other diseases are urgently needed.