Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic Lockdown on the Prognosis, Morbidity, and Mortality of Patients Undergoing Elective and Emergency Abdominal Surgery: A Retrospective Cohort Study in a Tertiary Center, Saudi Arabia

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 25;19(23):15660. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192315660.


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic's main concerns are limiting the spread of infectious diseases and upgrading the delivery of health services, infrastructure, and therapeutic provision. The goal of this retrospective cohort study was to evaluate the emergency experience and delay of elective abdominal surgical intervention at King Abdul-Aziz University Hospital from October 2019 to October 2020, with a focus on post-operative morbidity and mortality before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. This study compares two groups of patients with emergent and elective abdominal surgical procedures between two different periods; the population was divided into two groups: the control group, which included 403 surgical patients, and the lockdown group, which included 253 surgical patients. During the lockdown, surgical activity was reduced by 37.2% (p = 0.014), and patients were more likely to require reoperations and blood transfusions during or after surgery (p= 0.002, 0.021, and 0.018, respectively). During the lockdown period, the average length of stay increased from 3.43 to 5.83 days (p = 0.002), and the patients who developed complications (53.9%) were more than those in the control period (46.1%) (p = 0.001). Our tertiary teaching hospital observed a significant decline in the overall number of surgeries performed during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown period. During the lockdown, abdominal surgery was performed only on four patients; they were positive for COVID-19. Three of them underwent exploratory laparotomy; two of the three developed shock post-operative; one patient had colon cancer (ASA score 3), one had colon disease (ASA score 2), and two had perforated bowels (ASA scores 2 and 4, respectively). Two out of four deaths occurred after surgery. Our results showed the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on surgical care as both 30-day mortality and total morbidity have risen considerably.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Saudi Arabia; abdominal surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • SARS-CoV-2

Grants and funding

This research work was funded by the Deanship of Scientific Research (DSR) at King Abdulaziz University (KAU), Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has funded this project, under grant no. (RG-5-140-43).