HealthDay News — Worldwide, more than 28 million elective surgeries could be canceled or postponed during the 12 weeks of peak disruption due to COVID-19, according to a study published online May 12 in the British Journal of Surgery.

Aneel Bhangu, M.B.Ch.B., Ph.D., from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues estimated the number of adult elective operations that would be canceled or postponed during the 12 weeks of peak disruption due to COVID-19 in a global expert-response study. Cancellation rates were estimated for 190 countries; these rates were applied to country-level surgical volumes to calculate the total canceled operations.

The researchers estimated that 28,404,603 operations would be canceled or postponed during the peak 12 weeks of COVID-19 disruption (2,367,050 operations per week). Most (90.2 percent) would be operations for benign disease. The overall 12-week cancellation rate was estimated at 72.3 percent. Globally, 81.7, 37.7, and 25.4 percent of benign surgery, cancer surgery, and elective cesarean sections, respectively, would be canceled or postponed. It would take a median of 45 weeks to clear the backlog of operations resulting from the COVID-19 disruption if countries increase their normal surgical volume by 20 percent.

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“Future research should be prioritized to identify strategies to mitigate the risk of operating in COVID-19 environments, so that cancellations are minimized,” the authors write.

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