International registry of otolaryngologist–head and neck surgeons with COVID-19

Leigh J. Sowerby, Kate Stephenson, Alexander Dickie, Federico A.Di Lella, Niall Jefferson, Hannah North, R. Daniele De Siati, Rebecca Maunsell, Michael Herzog, Raghu Nandhan, Marilena Trozzi, Puya Dehgani-Mobaraki, Antoine Melkane, Claudio Callejas, Harald Miljeteig, Diane Smit, Daniel Dibildox Reynoso, Joao Eloi Moura, Ann Hermansson, Shazia PeerLisa Burnell, Nicolas Fakhry, Carlos Chiesa-Estomba, Özlem Önerci Çelebi, Sergei Karpischenko, Steven Sobol, Zoukaa Sargi, Zara M. Patel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Background: It has become clear that healthcare workers are at high risk, and otolaryngology has been theorized to be among the highest risk specialties for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The purpose of this study was to detail the international impact of COVID-19 among otolaryngologists, and to identify instructional cases. Methods: Country representatives of the Young Otolaryngologists–International Federation of Otolaryngologic Societies (YO-IFOS) surveyed otolaryngologists through various channels. Nationwide surveys were distributed in 19 countries. The gray literature and social media channels were searched to identify reported deaths of otolaryngologists from COVID-19. Results: A total of 361 otolaryngologists were identified to have had COVID-19, and data for 325 surgeons was available for analysis. The age range was 25 to 84 years, with one-half under the age of 44 years. There were 24 deaths in the study period, with 83% over age 55 years. Source of infection was likely clinical activity in 175 (54%) cases. Prolonged exposure to a colleague was the source for 37 (11%) surgeons. Six instructional cases were identified where infections occurred during the performance of aerosol-generating operations (tracheostomy, mastoidectomy, epistaxis control, dacryocystorhinostomy, and translabyrinthine resection). In 3 of these cases, multiple operating room attendees were infected, and in 2, the surgeon succumbed to complications of COVID-19. Conclusion: The etiology of reported cases within the otolaryngology community appear to stem equally from clinical activity and community spread. Multiple procedures performed by otolaryngologists are aerosol-generating procedures (AGPs) and great care should be taken to protect the surgical team before, during, and after these operations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1201-1208
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Forum of Allergy and Rhinology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020


  • COVID-19
  • aerosol generating procedures (AGPs)
  • coronavirus
  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • otolaryngology
  • personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • physicians

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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