COVID-19 and Mortality in the Global Surgical Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Surg Res. 2024 May:297:88-100. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2024.01.021. Epub 2024 Mar 8.


Introduction: To date, no systematic review or meta-analysis has comprehensively estimated the risk of mortality by surgery type on an international scale. We aim to delineate the risk of mortality in patients with COVID-19 who undergo surgery.

Methods: PubMed (MEDLINE), Scopus, OVID, the World Health Organization Global Literature on Coronavirus Disease, and Corona-Central databases were searched from December 2019 through January 2022. Studies providing data on mortality in patients undergoing surgery were included. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses guidelines for abstracting data were followed and performed independently by two reviewers. The main outcome was mortality in patients with COVID-19.

Results: Of a total of 4023 studies identified, 46 studies with 80,015 patients met our inclusion criteria. The mean age was 67 y; 57% were male. Surgery types included general (14.9%), orthopedic (23.4%), vascular (6.4%), thoracic (10.6%), and urologic (8.5%). Patients undergoing surgery with COVID-19 elicited a nine-fold increased risk of mortality (relative risk [RR] 8.99, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.96-16.32) over those without COVID-19. In low-income and middle-income countries (RR: 16.04, 95% CI: 4.59-56.12), the mortality risk was twice as high compared to high-income countries (RR: 7.50, 95% CI: 4.30-13.09).

Conclusions: Mortality risk in surgical patients with COVID-19 compared to those without is increased almost 10-fold. The risk was highest in low-income and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries, suggesting a disproportionate effect of the pandemic on resource-constrained regions.

Keywords: COVID-19; International; Meta-analysis; Mortality; Surgery; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • COVID-19*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • World Health Organization