COVID-19 orthopaedic trauma volumes: a Canadian experience during lockdown and staged reopening

OTA Int. 2021 May 18;4(2):e134. doi: 10.1097/OI9.0000000000000134. eCollection 2021 Jun.


Objectives: The aim of this study is to report the impact of public health measures (PHM), including their relaxation, on surgical orthopaedic trauma volumes. We hypothesize an initial reduction in orthopaedic trauma volumes during lockdown followed by a surge as Stages 1 and 2 of reopening progressed in Summer 2020.

Methods: All unscheduled surgical orthopaedic trauma cases from March through August were retrospectively reviewed in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, from 2008 to 2020. Trauma volumes from 2008 to 2019 were used to model expected 2020 volumes, and multivariable Poisson regression was used to determine the effect of PHM on orthopaedic trauma volumes.

Results: A total of 22,331 trauma orthopaedic surgeries were included. During lockdown, there was a significant decrease in trauma volume compared with expected (-14.2%, -25.7 to -10.5%, P < .001) and there were significantly fewer ankle fractures (-17.8%, -30.9 to -2.2%, P = .027). During reopening Stage 2, there was a significant increase in trauma volume (+8.9%, +2.2 to +16.1%, P = .009). There was no change in the incidence of polytrauma, hip fracture, or wrist fracture during the pandemic.

Conclusions: This study provides the first report of a surge in trauma volumes as PHM are relaxed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability to predict decreases in trauma volumes with strict PHM and subsequent surges with reopening can help inform operating room time management and staffing in future waves of COVID-19 or infectious disease pandemics.

Level of evidence: Prognostic - Level III.

Keywords: COVID-19; orthopaedic; public health measures; surgical wait times; trauma volumes.