Borgstein ABJ, Brunner S, Hayami M, Moons J, Fuchs H, Eshuis WJ, Gisbertz SS, Bruns CJ, Nafteux P, Nilsson M, Schröder W, van Berge Henegouwen MI
Ann Surg Oncol - (-) - [2021-04-08; online 2021-04-08]
Many hospitals postponed elective surgical care during the first wave of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. Some centers continued elective surgery, including esophageal cancer surgery, with the use of preoperative screening methods; however, there is no evidence supporting the safety of this strategy as postoperative outcomes after esophageal cancer surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic have not yet been investigated. This multicenter study in four European tertiary esophageal cancer referral centers included consecutive adult patients undergoing elective esophageal cancer surgery from a prospectively maintained database in a COVID-19 pandemic cohort (1 March 2020-31 May 2020) and a control cohort (1 October 2019-29 February 2020). The primary outcome was the rate of respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation. The COVID-19 cohort consisted of 139 patients, versus 168 patients in the control cohort. There was no difference in the rate of respiratory failure requiring mechanical ventilation (13.7% vs. 8.3%, p = 0.127) and number of pulmonary complications (32.4% vs. 29.9%, p = 0.646) between the COVID-19 cohort and the control cohort. Overall, postoperative morbidity and mortality rates were comparable between both cohorts. History taking and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) were used as preoperative screening methods to detect a possible severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in all centers. No patients were diagnosed with COVID-19 pre- or postoperatively. Esophageal cancer surgery during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic was not associated with an increase in pulmonary complications as no patients were diagnosed with COVID-19. Esophageal cancer surgery can be performed safely with the use of adequate preoperative SARS-CoV-2 screening methods.