What is the Preferred Screening Tool for COVID-19 in Asymptomatic Patients Undergoing a Surgical or Diagnostic Procedure?

16 Aug, 2020
INTRODUCTION: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, measures were taken to protect healthcare staff from infection, to prevent infection of patients admitted to the hospital and to distribute PPE according to need. To assure the proper protection without overuse of limited supply of these equipments, screening of patients before surgical or diagnostic procedure was implemented. This study evaluates the results of this screening. 
METHOD: All patients screened for COVID-19 before procedure warranting either general, locoregional anaesthesia or sedation were included. Screening included a symptom questionnaire by phone, PCR and HRCT chest testing. Surgical or procedural details were registered together with actions taken based on screening results. 
RESULTS: Three hundred ninety-eight screenings were performed on 386 patients. The symptom questionnaire was completed in 72% of screenings. In 371 screenings, PCR testing was performed and negative. HRCT chest found 18 cases where COVID-19 could not be excluded, with negative PCR testing. Three patients had their surgery postponed due to inconclusive screening, and additional measures were taken in three other patients. There were incidental findings in 14% of HRCT chest scans. 
DISCUSSION: Pre-operative screening will differentiate if PPE is needed for procedures and which patients can safely have elective surgery during this COVID-19 pandemic and in the times to come. HRCT chest has no additional value in the pre-operative screening of asymptomatic patients. Screening can be performed with a symptom questionnaire, and additional screening with PCR testing in high-risk patient groups should be considered.

For reading full text click the link.