The Ongoing Impact of COVID-19 on Adult Cardiac Surgery and Suggestions for Safe Continuation Throughout the Pandemic: A Review of Expert Opinions

Perfusion. 2021 May 13. Online ahead of print

Objectives

To establish the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on adult cardiac surgery by reviewing current data and use this to establish methods for safely continuing to carry out surgery.

Methods

Conduction of a literature search via PubMed using the search terms: ‘(adult cardiac OR cardiothoracic OR surgery OR minimally invasive OR sternotomy OR hemi-sternotomy OR aortic valve OR mitral valve OR elective OR emergency) AND (COVID-19 or coronavirus OR SARS-CoV-2 OR 2019-nCoV OR 2019 novel coronavirus OR pandemic)’. Thirty-two articles were selected.

Results

Cardiac surgery patients have an increased risk of complications from COVID-19 and require vital finite resources such as intensive care beds, also required by COVID-19 patients. Thus reducing their admission and potential hospital-acquired infection with COVID-19 is paramount. During the peak, only emergencies such as acute aortic dissections were treated, triaging patients according to surgical priority and cancelling all elective procedures. Screening and 2-week quarantine prior to admission were essential changes, alongside additional levels of PPE. Focus was on reducing length of stay and switching to day-cases to reduce post-operative transmission risk, whilst several hospitals adopted ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ operating theatres for covid-confirmed and covid-negative patients.

Conclusions

This paper suggests a ‘CARDIO’ approach for reintroducing elective procedures: ‘Care, Assess, Re-Evaluate, Develop, Implement, Overcome’; prioritising the mental and physical health of the workforce, learning from and sharing experiences and objectively prioritising patients to improve case load.