The COVID-19 pandemic had affected the health systems across the world since early 2020 with a concern about access to medical care during the first wave of COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of COVID-19 on the patient selection for elective bariatric surgery using Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP) database.
MBSAQIP data for 2016-2020 was queried. Log-normal regression was performed to evaluate patient characteristics. Comparison between cases performed in 2020 and previous years was derived using Wilcoxon rank-sum test for continuous variables and Fisher's exact test for categorical variables for laparoscopic vs. robotic-assisted approaches.
A total of 822,558 patients underwent robotic (R) and laparoscopic (L) sleeve gastrectomy and Roux-en-Y gastric-bypass (R-SG, L-SG, R-RYGB, and L-RYGB, respectively). Comorbidities were lower in the cases performed in 2020 compared to pre-COVID years in both the laparoscopic and robotic approaches of SG and RYGB.
Patients who underwent elective bariatric surgery during COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 tend to have less comorbidities comparing to the patients who had bariatric surgery prior to COVID-19. It is possible that bariatric centers decreased offering surgeries to high-risk patients.