Maintaining surgical care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic: A comparative cohort study at a tertiary gynecological cancer centre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • Zahra Pervaiz
  • Jack Lowe-Zinola
  • Sian Cree
  • Audrey Kwong
  • Natalie Marriott
  • Florence Cole
  • Uchechukwu Arum
  • Barbara Szopinski
  • Ahmed Elattar
  • Kavita Singh
  • Janos Balega

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Pan-Birmingham Gynaecological Cancer Centre
  • Birmingham City Hospital


Background: Surgery is the cornerstone of gynecological cancer management, but inpatient treatment may expose both patients and healthcare staff to COVID-19 infections. Plans to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have been implemented widely, but few studies have evaluated the effectiveness of these plans in maintaining safe surgical care delivery. Aim: To evaluate the effects of mitigating plans implemented on the delivery of gynecological cancer surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: A comparative cohort study of patients treated in a high-volume tertiary gyneoncological centre in the United Kingdom. Prospectively-recorded consecutive operations performed and early peri-operative outcomes during the same calendar periods (January–August) in 2019 and 2020 were compared. Results: In total, 585 operations were performed (296 in 2019; 289 in 2020). There was no significant difference in patient demographics. Types of surgery performed were different (p = 0.034), with fewer cytoreductive surgeries for ovarian cancer and laparoscopic procedures (p = 0.002) in 2020. There was no difference in intra-operative complication rates, critical care admission rates or length of stay. One patient had confirmed COVID-19 infection (0.4%). The 30-day post-operative complication rates were significantly higher in 2020 than in 2019 (58 [20.1%] versus 32 [10.8%]; p = 0.002) for both minor and major complications. This increase, primarily from March 2020 onwards, coincided with the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Conclusions: Maintaining surgical throughput with meticulous and timely planning is feasible during the COVID-19 pandemic but this was associated with an increase in post-operative complications due to a multitude of reasons.

Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: © 2020 Elsevier Inc. Copyright: Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
JournalGynecologic oncology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • cancer surgery, COVID-19, Pandemic, surgical morbidityvirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas