World Journal of Emergency Surgery (2021-03-01)

The management of surgical patients in the emergency setting during COVID-19 pandemic: the WSES position paper

  • Belinda De Simone,
  • Elie Chouillard,
  • Massimo Sartelli,
  • Walter L. Biffl,
  • Salomone Di Saverio,
  • Ernest E. Moore,
  • Yoram Kluger,
  • Fikri M. Abu-Zidan,
  • Luca Ansaloni,
  • Federico Coccolini,
  • Ari Leppänemi,
  • Andrew B. Peitzmann,
  • Leonardo Pagani,
  • Gustavo P. Fraga,
  • Ciro Paolillo,
  • Edoardo Picetti,
  • Massimo Valentino,
  • Emmanouil Pikoulis,
  • Gian Luca Baiocchi,
  • Fausto Catena

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 16, no. 1
pp. 1 – 34


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Abstract Background Since the COVID-19 pandemic has occurred, nations showed their unpreparedness to deal with a mass casualty incident of this proportion and severity, which resulted in a tremendous number of deaths even among healthcare workers. The World Society of Emergency Surgery conceived this position paper with the purpose of providing evidence-based recommendations for the management of emergency surgical patients under COVID-19 pandemic for the safety of the patient and healthcare workers. Method A systematic review was conducted in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Protocols (PRISMA-P) through the MEDLINE (PubMed), Embase and SCOPUS databases. Synthesis of evidence, statements and recommendations were developed in accordance with the GRADE methodology. Results Given the limitation of the evidence, the current document represents an effort to join selected high-quality articles and experts’ opinion. Conclusions The aim of this position paper is to provide an exhaustive guidelines to perform emergency surgery in a safe and protected environment for surgical patients and for healthcare workers under COVID-19 and to offer the best management of COVID-19 patients needing for an emergency surgical treatment. We recommend screening for COVID-19 infection at the emergency department all acute surgical patients who are waiting for hospital admission and urgent surgery. The screening work-up provides a RT-PCR nasopharyngeal swab test and a baseline (non-contrast) chest CT or a chest X-ray or a lungs US, depending on skills and availability. If the COVID-19 screening is not completed we recommend keeping the patient in isolation until RT-PCR swab test result is not available, and to manage him/she such as an overt COVID patient. The management of COVID-19 surgical patients is multidisciplinary. If an immediate surgical procedure is mandatory, whether laparoscopic or via open approach, we recommend doing every effort to protect the operating room staff for the safety of the patient.