COVID-19 screening in asymptomatic patients scheduled for surgery. What is the role of rt-PCR in elective procedures during the pandemic?

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Juan David Cala-Garcia
Isabel Virginia Hernández-Linares
Joan Sebastian Barrera-Guaca
Claudia Viviana Jaimes-Gonzalez
Andrés De Vivero
Luis Eduardo Cavelier-Castro
Carlos Eduardo Pérez-Diaz


Background: COVID-19 has changed medical practice nowadays. One of the biggest concerns has been establishing when invasive procedures such as surgery, GI endoscopy or bone marrow transplant are safe; and if it is necessary to consider screening for asymptomatic patients. Methods: We identified asymptomatic patients that were scheduled for invasive procedures from May 2020 to April 2021 at Clínica de Marly. Patients were asked to fill a questionnaire about GI and upper respiratory symptoms and contact with possible/confirmed cases of COVID- 19 in the last 15 days. Patients taken to emergency procedures, who had symptoms or contact with probable/confirmed cases in the last 15 days were excluded. rt-PCR was performed to screen COVID-19. Results: A total of 1837 patients were included. 104 rt-PCRs tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, leading to a 5.66% of identified asymptomatic patients. Patients were followed-up on the 30th day after the procedure. 1733 negative patients responded to our follow-up, in which only 1 death and 2 complications were detected. 102 positive patients were followed-up and no complications or deaths were reported. Conclusions: We found the presence of 5.66% of asymptomatic patients with positive rt-PCR for COVID-19. Safe screening will decide if these invasive interventions can be postponed, or, if the benefit outweighs the risks.

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