The effect of COVID-19 pandemic on perioperative factors: data from the Swedish Perioperative Register

Perioper Med (Lond). 2023 Sep 16;12(1):50. doi: 10.1186/s13741-023-00340-0.

Abstract

Background: The COVID-19 pandemic has affected healthcare organizations in many areas. The aim of this study was to describe surgical interventions, anesthesia, and postoperative outcomes in adult patients during the first wave and 1 year into the COVID-19 pandemic in Sweden, and to compare these outcomes with outcomes during the same period the year before the pandemic.

Methods: Data were collected from the Swedish PeriOperative Register, and included 417, 233 perioperative registration of patients ≥ 18 years old between period 1 (March-June 2019), period 2 (March-June 2020), and period 3 (March-June 2021).

Results: Compared with pre-pandemic (period 1), the number of surgical interventions decreased by 28% in the first wave (period 2); 1 year into the pandemic (period 3), the number of interventions was still 7.5% lower than pre-pandemic. The largest drops between periods 1 and 2 were noted in the specialties of ear, nose, and larynx surgery, - 55.6%; teeth, jaws, mouth, and pharynx surgery, - 45.0%; endocrine system surgery, - 38.8%. The number of acute surgeries remained stable during all three periods. Volatiles were more frequently used for the maintenance of general anesthesia in period 2 than in either period 1 or 3 (p < 0.001). Minor differences were noted throughout the periods in postoperative nausea and vomiting as well as postoperative pain.

Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on perioperative care in Sweden. During the first wave of the pandemic, the number of surgical interventions decreased, but the number of acute surgeries remained stable compared with pre-pandemic numbers. Perioperative organizations have had and will continue to have challenges handling the increased number of patients needing perioperative care.

Keywords: Anesthesia; COVID-19 pandemic; Perioperative period; Postoperative outcomes; Surgical interventions.