No Patients Having Elective Outpatient Orthopaedic Surgery Performed in an Ambulatory Surgery Center Using Preoperative Screening Protocols During the Coronavirus Pandemic Developed COVID-19

Arthrosc Sports Med Rehabil. 2021 Aug;3(4):e1141-e1146. doi: 10.1016/j.asmr.2021.05.001. Epub 2021 May 12.


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to determine the safety of elective, outpatient orthopaedic sports procedures during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic at a high-volume orthopaedic practice.

Methods: All patients who were scheduled for elective, outpatient orthopaedic sports medicine procedures at 1 of 2 of outpatient surgical centers between July 1, 2020, and December 31, 2020, were asked to complete a custom survey during a postoperative clinic visit or phone call at a minimum of 2 weeks or were subject to a routine screening questionnaire and temperature screening at the time of the first postoperative follow-up visit. The survey questionnaire assessed for any COVID-19-related symptoms. Surgical case logs were retrieved to review for any cancelled surgeries due to a positive preoperative COVID-19 test.

Results: In total, 3.5% of patients (n = 39/1119) scheduled for surgery were diagnosed with COVID-19 during preoperative testing, resulting in surgical cancellation. Patients with a positive preoperative COVID-19 test result were found to be significantly younger (46 ± 20 years) when compared to all other patients with a negative test (51 ± 21 years; P = .002). No patient was diagnosed with COVID-19, reported symptoms concerning for COVID infection, underwent additional testing, or reported close contact with another individual with a positive test or possessed symptoms concerning for COVID-19 at a minimum of 2 weeks after surgery.

Conclusion: This study found that 3.5% of patients tested positive for COVID-19 and were significantly younger when compared with patients testing negative. No patient investigated for potential infection after surgery reported the development of any symptoms related to COVID-19 or reported a positive test result after surgery. Using current protocols for preoperative screening, elective outpatient orthopaedic surgery performed in an Ambulatory Surgical Center is safe with no documented cases of COVID-19 transmission in this cohort.

Level of evidence: Level IV, prognostic case series.