Background: The COVID-19 pandemic is pushing healthcare systems to their limits. Dramatic reductions in the adult elective surgery are ubiquitous, but corresponding changes in pediatric services are not well described. The Swedish Perioperative Registry contains data on all anesthetic procedures in Sweden, and therefore, provides a unique opportunity to analyze the effect of the pandemic on the pediatric anesthesia capacity on a national level. We hypothesized that there would be a significant reduction in pediatric elective procedures. The aim was to determine the effects on pediatric surgical and anesthetic services during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden.
Methods: For this retrospective registry cohort study, we extracted all procedures performed on patients <18 years of age in 2020 and 2019. Weeks 12 to 26 of 2020 were defined as the first wave, and data were analyzed according to level of care, type of surgery, procedure code, and emergency or elective surgery.
Results: We found 7015 fewer procedures during the first wave epoch. Elective cases were reduced by 53.7% while emergency surgery was not significantly affected. During the peak of the first wave in April, there was a 72.8% reduction in elective cases; ENT/maxillofacial surgery showed the greatest reduction (86.7%). The surgical and anesthesia capacity recovered to near-normal levels by the end of June 2020.
Conclusion: We conclude that the impact of COVID-19 on pediatric surgical procedures in Sweden during the first wave of the pandemic was dramatic, but elective services were restored a few months after the peak.
Keywords: COVID-19; general surgery; orthopedic surgery; pediatric hospitals; workload.
© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.