Urology Amidst the War on COVID-19
We sought to review the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of urology internationally, with particular focus on the Australian response.
A literature search of PubMed was conducted using search terms “urology,” “coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “surgery.” This generated 163 articles. The abstracts were reviewed for relevance, and 31 articles were selected, reviewed in depth, and information synthesised along with relevant government, surgical college, and urological society policy documents.
Extensive health care changes have been implemented worldwide to curb infection rates. Elective surgery cancellations have been widely mandated to curb infection rates with mixed success. Whilst demand on hospital resources was reduced by up to 80%, the estimated cost to clear the surgical backlog in the UK has reached £100 million. Strict perioperative precautions have also been employed with mandatory personal protective equipment for all surgical staff and guidelines fast tracked for safe aerosol-generating procedures. Attempts to reduce exposure to patients and health care workers resulted in compromised operative time, blood loss, and length of hospital stay, with potential increased risk of short- and long-term complications. Systemic changes to education and training have also been made. Clinically, the cancellation of training examinations and a freeze on rotations and elective surgery restrictions have blunted surgical experience and teaching. The effect has rippled through junior doctor positions, with uncertainty remaining for training positions in 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic is the greatest current challenge facing health care worldwide. Amidst elective surgery restrictions, novel preoperative testing procedures and intraoperative precautions, providing safe and appropriate urological care is a major challenge. This review was derived entirely from expert opinion articles. Further research into the virus is needed to bring the world safely through the pandemic, and post-pandemic recovery will likely be the next challenge.
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