Dr. Tom Colletti
Robotic-assisted laparoscopic surgeries have become the standard of care for many surgical procedures. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant delay in care due to postponed or cancelled due to staffing shortages, concern over viral transmission between patients and staff, personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages, inpatient bed shortages, and diverting of personal and equipment to the COVID-19 relief efforts. Lack of society guidelines, lack of a standardized approach to re-instating elective surgeries, and overall lack of clinical data surrounding the novel coronavirus, has created an unprecedented disruption in the surgical services. Understanding the full impact COVID-19 has had on robotic surgery thus far is critical in moving forward and creating new standards in peri-operative care.
A comprehensive literature review was conducted utilizing PubMed. Search terms included “COVID-19”, “robotic surgery”, “laparoscopic surgery”. Initially 53 articles were selected. After being screened for relevancy, selected articles were reviewed, and an additional literature search was conducted utilizing their references. Ultimately, 39 articles were reviewed and a total of 40 references utilized.
Proceeding with robotic surgery during the pandemic is possible with careful consideration of current COVID-19 case levels and the institution of policies and procedures to mitigate risk to both patients and staff of COVID-19 infections and complications. Having a detailed emergency response plan to handle minimally invasive and elective surgeries is critical as the pandemic continues for the foreseeable future. Educating staff on appropriate PPE donning and doffing, appropriately screening patients for surgery, utilizing telehealth when possible, and instituting “cold units” or increasing same day discharges are all viable techniques to continue robotic surgeries despite ongoing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kerr L. COVID-19 Impacts on Robotic Surgery. Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science. 2021; 4(1).
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