Getting back to business: considerations for restarting non-cancer gynaecological surgery following the COVID-19 peak
COVID-19, coronavirus, surgery, laparoscopy
As we begin to pass the first peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the backlog of routine gynaecological surgical work is becoming more apparent and continues to build day by day. The potential for further pandemic surges remain; however it is imperative that elective gynaecological surgery is restored safely, ethically and in a timely manner. The risks of COVID-19 transmission and potential increased surgical morbidity must be weighed up against the patient’s ongoing symptoms and quality of life. Universal screening and testing of patients attending for routine surgery, as well as staff testing and retesting, will be fundamental to reducing the risks to both patients and staff, and avoiding the higher morbidity encountered when operating on asymptomatic infected patients. The aim of this paper is to explore pathways to safely reintroduce elective benign gynaecological surgery and the challenges that will be encountered including patient counselling and informed consent, surgical prioritisation and the screening and testing of patients and staff, as well as the logistical and ethical challenges of reintroducing benign surgery during COVID-19 times.