The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on neurosurgery in the elderly population in Sweden.

Axenhus M, Schedin-Weiss S, Tjernberg L, Winblad B

BMC Public Health 24 (1) 823 [2024-03-15; online 2024-03-15]

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a refocus of health care resources to acute care which has impacted on the capacity of healthcare systems to conduct neurological surgeries. The elderly population has been shown to be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of the pandemic. Less neurosurgery can result in great impact on public health by increasing morbidity and mortality in patients with malignancies and traumatic injuries. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on neurosurgical procedures in the elderly population in Sweden. In this retrospective observational study, the reported incidence of all neurosurgical procedures registered in the 21 Regions of Sweden during 2015-2021 in people aged 65 year or older was collected. Surgical procedures were classified according to the NOMESCO system of classification. Neurosurgery incidence was defined as the number of NOMESCO associated interventions per 100.000 inhabitants. ICD-10 codes associated with neurosurgery-related diagnoses and deaths were also collected. Expected incidence of neurosurgery, neurosurgery-associated deaths and brain cancer diagnoses was estimated and compared to actual outcomes. Decrease in the incidence of neurosurgery was compared to regional COVID-19 incidence, other types of surgery and surgery waiting times. The incidence of several categories of neurosurgery decreased in Sweden during 2020 and 2021, although not as much as other surgical categories. Women were more affected than men by the decrease in neurosurgery which could be partly explained by a decrease in brain cancer diagnoses amongst women. There was an association between regional decrease in neurosurgery incidence and longer surgery waiting time. COVID-19 incidence in the region did not have an effect on regional decreases in neurosurgery incidence. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a reduction in the number of neurosurgical procedures performed in Sweden during 2020-2021, although not as much as in other European countries. There was regional difference in Sweden with respect to number of surgeries, and waiting time for elective surgeries although there was no increase in mortality.

Category: Health

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38491396

DOI 10.1186/s12889-024-18332-0

Crossref 10.1186/s12889-024-18332-0

pmc: PMC10941451
pii: 10.1186/s12889-024-18332-0

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