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COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on emergency surgery in colorectal cancer: A single centre experience.

INTRODUCTION: The COVID-19 pandemic has led to major changes in the provision of surgical services and also affected patients' health-seeking behaviour. This contributes to delayed presentation of many surgical conditions resulting in poorer outcomes. Colorectal cancer (CRC) patients who present with acute surgical emergencies such as complete bowel obstruction, perforation, bleeding or sepsis often require immediate intervention. This study aimed to assess the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the proportion of emergency surgery in CRC patients.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study. All CRC patients who underwent elective and emergency surgery from January until December 2019 (pre-COVID era) and September 2020 until August 2021 (COVID era) were included. Patient demographics, presentation, tumour stage, surgery performed and waiting time for surgery were collected. Data were then compared.

RESULTS: Seventy-seven and 76 new cases of CRC underwent surgery before and during COVID-19, respectively. The proportions of emergency surgery before and during COVID-19 are 29% vs 33% (p=0.562). Of those who required emergency surgery, the proportions of patients who required stoma formation are 59% vs 72% (p= 0.351). There was no difference in median waiting time for patients requiring elective surgery (p= 0.668).

CONCLUSION: The proportion of emergency surgery for CRC patients is not statistically higher during the pandemic.

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