Background: Elective surgery, especially bariatric surgery, was stopped during the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic in the United Kingdom. Obesity is a major risk factor for COVID-19-related mortality. As the COVID-19 infection and mortality rates in Devon had been relatively low, bariatric procedures resumed with the necessary precautions in Plymouth with the easing of lockdown restrictions in mid-May. The aim of this study was to examine the outcome of bariatric surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods: Details of 38 patients, who underwent bariatric surgery between June 2020 and November 2020, were analyzed prospectively. All patients underwent a COVID-19 swab test 24–48 hours prior to the surgery. The primary outcome measure was COVID-19-related morbidity. Secondary outcomes were non-COVID-19-related morbidity, mortality, and weight loss at 6-week follow-up.
Results: Thirty-eight patients [24 females; median age 51 (24–63) years, median body mass indices (BMI) at surgery 42.9 (32.4–62.5) kg/m2] underwent bariatric surgery. Thirty-seven patients were of White British ethnicity. No patient tested positive for COVID-19 pre- and postoperatively. No patient had any COVID-19-related morbidity or mortality. One patient developed a staple line bleed and returned to theater for relook laparoscopy and hemostasis. One patient developed an anastomotic leak and had a relook laparotomy for lavage and drain placement. The median length of hospital stay was 1 day. One patient was preplanned for intensive care admission and he stayed in a high dependency unit (HDU) for 1 day. All patients were followed up for 6 weeks and the median (range) excess weight loss (%EWL), at 6 weeks, was 24.4% (−0.9–53.6).
Conclusion: Bariatric surgery can be performed safely in an area of low COVID-19 prevalence with the necessary precautions.
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