Impact of the National Lockdown Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic On Upper Limb Trauma Workload in Central London: A Multi-Centre Longitudinal Observational Study During Implementation and Ease of National Lockdown

Document Type : RESEARCH PAPER


1 Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, London, England, UK

2 Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, England, UK

3 Barnet Hospital, Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, London, England UK


Background: This study assessed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on acute upper limb referrals and operative case-mix at the beginning and ease of British lockdown. Methods: A longitudinal multicentre observational cohort study was conducted for both upper limb trauma referrals and operative case-mix over a 12-week period (6 weeks from the beginning and 6 weeks from the ease of the national lockdown). Statistical analysis included median (± median absolute deviation), risk and odds ratios, and Fisher’s exact test to calculate the statistical significance, set at p ≤ 0.05. Results: There was a 158% (n = 456 vs. 177) increase in upper limb referrals and 133% (n = 91 vs. 39) increase in the operative trauma caseload at the ease of lockdown compared with its commencement. An increase in sporting injuries was demonstrated (p=0.02), specifically cycling (p=0.004, OR=2.58). A significant increase in COVID-19 testing was demonstrated during the ease of lockdown (p=0.0001) with more patients having their management changed during the early pandemic (9.6% vs. 0.7%, p=0.0001). Of these patients, 47% went on to have delayed surgery within 6 months. No patients who underwent surgery tested positive for COVID-19 infection within 14 days post-operatively and no mortalities were recorded at 30 days. Conclusion: The ease of lockdown has seen upper limb referrals and operations more than double compared to early lockdown. With no patients testing positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of the procedure, this demonstrates that having upper limb surgery during the current pandemic is safe. Level of evidence: III


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