From the Journals

Delay surgery by 7 weeks after COVID-19 diagnosis, study shows


‘An important study’

“This is an important study of postoperative mortality among patients recovered from COVID-19,” Adrian Diaz, MD, MPH, said in an interview when asked to comment.

The large cohort and numerous practice settings are among the strengths of the research, said Dr. Diaz, of the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation in Ann Arbor. He was lead author of a June 2020 review article on elective surgery in the time of COVID-19, published in The American Journal of Surgery.

“As with nearly all studies of this nature, results must be interpreted on a case-by-case basis for individual patients. However, this study does add important information for patients and providers in helping them have an informed discussion on the timing of surgery,” said Dr. Diaz, a fellow in the Center for Healthcare Outcomes and Policy and a resident in general surgery at the Ohio State University, Columbus.

Dr. Nepogodiev and colleagues included both urgent and elective surgeries in the study. Dr. Diaz said this was a potential limitation because emergency operations “should never be delayed, by definition.” Lack of indications for the surgeries and information on cause of death were additional limitations.

Future research should evaluate any benefit in delaying surgery longer than 7 or more weeks, Dr. Diaz added, perhaps looking specifically at 10, 12, or 14 weeks, or considering outcomes as a continuous variable. This would help health care providers “garner more insight into risk and benefits of delaying surgery beyond 7 weeks.”

Dr. Nepogodiev and Dr. Diaz disclosed no relevant financial relationships. The study had multiple funding sources, including the National Institute for Health Research Global Health Research Unit, the Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons, the British Association of Surgical Oncology, and Medtronic.

A version of this article first appeared on


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