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Front Surg


Early in the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, global governing bodies prioritized transmissibility-based precautions and hospital capacity as the foundation for delay of elective procedures. As elective surgical volumes increased, convalescent COVID-19 patients faced increased postoperative morbidity and mortality and clinicians had limited evidence for stratifying individual risk in this population. Clear evidence now demonstrates that those recovering from COVID-19 have increased postoperative morbidity and mortality. These data-in conjunction with the recent American Society of Anesthesiologists guidelines-offer the evidence necessary to expand the early pandemic guidelines and guide the surgeon's preoperative risk assessment. Here, we argue elective surgeries should still be delayed on a personalized basis to maximize postoperative outcomes. We outline a framework for stratifying the individual COVID-19 patient's fitness for surgery based on the symptoms and severity of acute or convalescent COVID-19 illness, coagulopathy assessment, and acuity of the surgical procedure. Although the most common manifestation of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection is COVID-19 pneumonitis, every system in the body is potentially afflicted by an endotheliitis. This endothelial derangement most often manifests as a hypercoagulable state on admission with associated occult and symptomatic venous and arterial thromboembolisms. The delicate balance between hyper and hypocoagulable states is defined by the local immune-thrombotic crosstalk that results commonly in a hemostatic derangement known as fibrinolytic shutdown. In tandem, the hemostatic derangements that occur during acute COVID-19 infection affect not only the timing of surgical procedures, but also the incidence of postoperative hemostatic complications related to COVID-19-associated coagulopathy (CAC). Traditional methods of thromboprophylaxis and treatment of thromboses after surgery require a tailored approach guided by an understanding of the pathophysiologic underpinnings of the COVID-19 patient. Likewise, a prolonged period of risk for developing hemostatic complications following hospitalization due to COVID-19 has resulted in guidelines from differing societies that recommend varying periods of delay following SARS-CoV-2 infection. In conclusion, we propose the perioperative, personalized assessment of COVID-19 patients' CAC using viscoelastic hemostatic assays and fluorescent microclot analysis.

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