COVID-19 Provides An Opportunity to Reassess How Frequent and How Extensive Elective Spine Surgery Should Be
- Adjunct Clinical Professor of Neurological Surgery School of Medicine State University of N.Y. at Stony Brook
DOI:10.25259/SNI_124_2020Copyright: © 2020 Surgical Neurology International This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 4.0 License, which allows others to remix, tweak, and build upon the work non-commercially, as long as the author is credited and the new creations are licensed under the identical terms.
How to cite this article: Epstein NE. COVID-19 Provides An Opportunity to Reassess How Frequent and How Extensive Elective Spine Surgery Should Be. Surg Neurol Int 28-Mar-2020;11:58
How to cite this URL: Epstein NE. COVID-19 Provides An Opportunity to Reassess How Frequent and How Extensive Elective Spine Surgery Should Be. Surg Neurol Int 28-Mar-2020;11:58. Available from: https://surgicalneurologyint.com/surgicalint-articles/9925/
With the advent of COVID-19, hospitals across the country have largely stopped “elective surgery”, including elective spine surgery. We encourage everyone to adhere to the recommendations to only perform urgent/emergent spine operations, which is defined, for example, as those reflecting pathology likely to result in quadriplegia or paraplegia within a three month period. This COVID-19 pandemic also affords us the unique opportunity to assess whether some elective spine surgery can be avoided or, when surgery is necessary, whether other less extensive procedures can be performed.
Reported Frequencies of Unnecessary Spine Surgery
A number of studies have documented unnecessary spine surgery, although the reported frequencies vary. In 2012, Gamache found that 69 (44.5%) of 155 second opinion patients that he had seen over a 14-month period were told by outside spine surgeons that they needed surgery, which he considered unnecessary.[
Greater Risks of Too Extensive or Insufficiently Extensive Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Patients are increasingly being offered too extensive or insufficiently extensive minimally invasive spine operations that increase perioperative risks.[
With COVID-19, the vast majority of spinal surgeons will not be performing elective spinal surgery to avoid overwhelming our hospitals, and consuming vital resources. As a consequence, COVID-19 provides us with the unique opportunity to reassess whether, and to what extent, elective spine surgery should be performed in the future.
Patient’s consent not required as there are no patients in this study.
There are no conflicts of interest.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Journal or its management.
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