Effect of COVID-19 on the delivery of care for thoracic surgical patients

Dao M. Nguyen, Karishma Kodia, Joanne Szewczyk, Ahmed Alnajar, Joy A. Stephens-McDonnough, Nestor R. Villamizar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: In this study we aimed to determine the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the delivery of care for thoracic surgical patients at an urban medical center. Methods: A retrospective analysis of all thoracic surgical cases from May 1, 2019, to December 31, 2020, was conducted. Demographic characteristics, preoperative surgical indications, procedures, final pathologic diagnoses, and perioperative outcomes were recorded. A census of operative cases, relevant ancillary services, and outpatient thoracic clinics were obtained from our institutional database. Results: Six hundred nineteen cases were included in this study (329 pre-COVID-19 and 290 COVID-19, representing an 11.8% reduction). There were no differences in type of thoracic procedures or perioperative outcomes among the 2 cohorts. Prolonged reduction of thoracic surgical cases (50% of baseline) during the first half of the COVID-19 period was followed by a resurgence of surgical volumes to 110% of baseline in the second half. A similar incidence of cases were performed for oncologic indications during the first half whereas more benign cases were performed in the second half, coinciding with the launch of our robotic foregut surgery program. After undergoing surgery during the pandemic, none of our patients reported COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of discharge. Conclusions: During the initial surge of COVID-19, while there was temporary closure of operative services, our health care system continued to provide safe care for thoracic surgery patients, particularly those with oncologic indications. Since phased reopening, we have experienced a rebound of surgical volume and case mix, ultimately mitigating the initial negative effect of the pandemic on delivery of thoracic surgical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJTCVS Open
StateAccepted/In press - 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • lung cancer
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2
  • thoracic surgery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Surgery
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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