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Published online: 2024-05-06

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Effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the treatment outcome of acute cholecystitis in an academic teaching hospital

Inez Bilińska1, Marcin Włodarczyk1, Agnieszka Dworzyńska1, Łukasz Dziki1

Abstract

Introduction: The COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic has impacted all medical services,
including admissions for elective and acute surgeries. Patients tended to wait longer since the origin of
symptoms which led to more severe conditions at the time of hospital admission. This study compares the
frequency and outcomes of surgery in acute cholecystitis before and during the first year of the pandemic.

Materials and methods: The data was retrospectively collected from patients who underwent surgery for
acute cholecystitis at an academic centre between March 2019 and March 2021. The patients were divided
into two groups: the year before the COVID pandemic (Group I) and the first year of the COVID pandemic
(Group II). Compared were the number of deaths, complications, length of hospital stay and severity of
the patients’ condition upon admission.

Results: The study involved 92 patients admitted for emergency surgery due to acute cholecystitis. Each
group consisted of 46 individuals. Patients from Group II were presented with longer medical history
(3.50 days vs 5.52 days; p = 0.043). The number of complications, such as wound abscesses (8.70% vs
17.39%; p = 0.353), septic shock (2.07% vs 13.04%, p=0.116) and admission to the ICU (intensive care
unit) (4.35% vs 6.52%; p = 1) was higher in Group II but did not achieve statistical significance. The only
statistically significant difference observed between Group I and II was the number of deaths. (6.52% vs
23.91%, p = 0.020)

Conclusions: This study reveals that during the COVID-19 pandemic, patients with acute cholecystitis were
reluctant to report to the hospital. They were admitted for emergency cholecystectomy with more severe
disease than before the pandemic and thus were prone to major and lethal complications.

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