Emergency Surgeries in Covid-19 patients
As the Covid-19 pandemic infects millions of people globally, the surgical staff needs to take extra precaution and ensure proper setting of the OR (operating room) to contain the risk of contamination. Dr. Vandana Soni explains the changes in the operating protocols due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She states that the anaesthetists (who administer the anaesthesia in patients) are at the highest risk as they have to directly deal with the patient’s oral cavity. To ensure the patient continues breathing during the surgery they need to be incubated (with the insertion of a breathing tube for mechanical ventilation). If during this procedure the patient coughs, the anaesthetists are exposed to a huge viral load. To prevent this, the patient is covered from three sides with a flexi-glass console. This console fits over the head of the patient and has two holes with disposable gloves through which doctors insert their arms to incubate the patient. The same console is used when the patient regains consciousness.
As for the operating surgeons, Dr. Vandana Soni explains that while operating on Covid-19 patients doctors have to wear the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) which is challenging because their faces are entirely covered. Moreover, surgeons have to wear goggles which often results in fogging. These technical difficulties further prolong the surgery. The only benefit of performing the surgery in the OR is that the perspiration can be controlled due to the air conditioners. These challenges have to be dealt with while conducting emergency surgeries.
Dr. Vandana Soni further reveals that the decision to perform a surgery relies on three crucial factors:-
The clinical condition of the patient
Availability of the surgical expertise as certain complicated surgeries require multiple teams working together
The necessary infrastructure to support the patient after the surgery as the function of their vital organs often fluctuates post-surgery