Awake Rhinology Surgery in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic in Europe
Peter Andrews 1 , Lukas Anschuetz 2 , Peter M Baptista 3 , Florian Bast 4 , Achim G Beule 5 , John De Carpentier 6 , Deirdre Fitzgerald 7 , Luis Miguel Pinto Correia Furtado 8 , Barton Knox 9 , Andrea Marzetti 10 , Nora W Perkins 11 , Prem Singh Randhawa 1
Background: European health-care systems are faced with a backlog of surgical procedures following the suspension of routine surgery during the COVID-19 crisis.
Routine rhinology surgery under general anaesthetic (GA) is now faced with significant challenges which include limited theatre capacity, the negative ramifications of surgical prioritization, reduced patient throughput in secondary care, and additional personal protective equipment requirements. Delayed surgery in rhinology, particularly with regards to chronic rhinosinusitis, has previously been shown to have poorer surgical outcomes, a detrimental effect on quality of life and long-term negative health socio-economic effects.
Awake rhinology surgery under local anaesthetic (LA) provides an ideal alternative to GA. It provides a means of operating on patients in a setting alternative to currently oversubscribed main theatres, by utilizing satellite facilities, while ensuring identical surgical outcomes for patients who may otherwise have been forced to wait a long time for their procedure. It also confers additional benefits in terms of shorter recovery time and hospital stay for patients.
Objectives: We have developed a set of recommendations that are intended to help support clinicians and managers to better adopt LA rhinology protocols and minimize the risk to the patient and health-care professionals involved.
Methodology: International roundtable forums were conducted and supplemented by individual interviews. The international board consisted of 12 rhinologists experienced in awake rhinology surgery. Feedback was analysed and shared to develop a consensus of best practice.
Recommendations: Local and national guidelines need to be adhered to with specific focus on patient and clinician safety. When performing awake rhinology procedures in the COVID-19 recovery process, consider implementing specific safety measures and workflow practices to safeguard patients and staff and minimize the risk of infection.
Conclusion: Awake surgery potentially provides quicker access to routine rhinology surgery in the post-COVID-19 recovery phase, ensuring patients are treated in a timely matter, thereby avoiding higher downstream costs, and improving outcomes.