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      Delayed presentation and sub-optimal outcomes of pediatric patients with acute appendicitis during the COVID-19 pandemic

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          Abstract

          Objective

          Early presentation and prompt diagnosis of acute appendicitis are necessary to prevent progression of disease leading to complicated appendicitis. We hypothesize that patients had a delayed presentation of acute appendicitis during the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected severity of disease on presentation and outcomes.

          Patients and methods

          We conducted a retrospective review of all patients who were treated for acute appendicitis at Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital (MSCH) between March 1, 2020 and May 31, 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its peak in New York City (NYC). For comparison, we reviewed patients treated from March 1, 2019 to May 31, 2019, prior to the pandemic. Demographics and baseline patient characteristics were analyzed for potential confounding variables. Outcomes were collected and grouped into those quantifying severity of illness on presentation to our ED, type of treatment, and associated post-treatment outcomes. Fisher's Exact Test and Kruskal-Wallis Test were used for univariate analysis while cox regression with calculation of hazard ratios was used for multivariate analysis.

          Results

          A total of 89 patients were included in this study, 41 patients were treated for appendicitis from March 1 to May 31 of 2019 (non-pandemic) and 48 were treated during the same time period in 2020 (pandemic). Duration of symptoms prior to presentation to the ED was significantly longer in patients treated in 2020, with a median of 2 days compared to 1 day (p = 0.003). Additionally, these patients were more likely to present with reported fever (52.1% vs 24.4%, p = 0.009) and had a higher heart rate on presentation with a median of 101 beats per minute (bpm) compared to 91 bpm (p = 0.040). Findings of complicated appendicitis on radiographic imaging including suspicion of perforation (41.7% vs 9.8%, p < 0.001) and intra-abdominal abscess (27.1% vs 7.3%, p = 0.025) were higher in patients presenting in 2020. Patients treated during the pandemic had higher rates of non-operative treatment (25.0% vs 7.3%, p = 0.044) requiring increased antibiotic use and image-guided percutaneous drain placement. They also had longer hospital length of stay by a median of 1 day (p = 0.001) and longer duration until symptom resolution by a median of 1 day (p = 0.004). Type of treatment was not a predictor of LOS (HR = 0.565, 95% CI = 0.357–0.894, p = 0.015) or duration until symptom resolution (HR = 0.630, 95% CI = 0.405–0.979, p = 0.040).

          Conclusion

          Patients treated for acute appendicitis at our children's hospital during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic presented with more severe disease and experienced suboptimal outcomes compared to those who presented during the same time period in 2019.

          Level of Evidence

          III

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          Most cited references 23

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          Covid-19 and Health Care’s Digital Revolution

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            Is Open Access

            Escalating infection control response to the rapidly evolving epidemiology of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) due to SARS-CoV-2 in Hong Kong

            Objective: To describe the infection control preparedness measures undertaken for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) due to SARS-CoV-2 (previously known as 2019 novel coronavirus) in the first 42 days after announcement of a cluster of pneumonia in China, on December 31, 2019 (day 1) in Hong Kong. Methods: A bundled approach of active and enhanced laboratory surveillance, early airborne infection isolation, rapid molecular diagnostic testing, and contact tracing for healthcare workers (HCWs) with unprotected exposure in the hospitals was implemented. Epidemiological characteristics of confirmed cases, environmental samples, and air samples were collected and analyzed. Results: From day 1 to day 42, 42 of 1,275 patients (3.3%) fulfilling active (n = 29) and enhanced laboratory surveillance (n = 13) were confirmed to have the SARS-CoV-2 infection. The number of locally acquired case significantly increased from 1 of 13 confirmed cases (7.7%, day 22 to day 32) to 27 of 29 confirmed cases (93.1%, day 33 to day 42; P < .001). Among them, 28 patients (66.6%) came from 8 family clusters. Of 413 HCWs caring for these confirmed cases, 11 (2.7%) had unprotected exposure requiring quarantine for 14 days. None of these was infected, and nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2 was not observed. Environmental surveillance was performed in the room of a patient with viral load of 3.3 × 106 copies/mL (pooled nasopharyngeal and throat swabs) and 5.9 × 106 copies/mL (saliva), respectively. SARS-CoV-2 was identified in 1 of 13 environmental samples (7.7%) but not in 8 air samples collected at a distance of 10 cm from the patient’s chin with or without wearing a surgical mask. Conclusion: Appropriate hospital infection control measures was able to prevent nosocomial transmission of SARS-CoV-2.
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              Delayed diagnosis of paediatric appendicitis during the COVID‐19 pandemic

              Abstract Aim To present seven paediatric patients with appendicitis, all with late diagnosis resulting from different aspects of the fear from the current global COVID‐19 pandemic. Methods Cases were collected from three paediatric surgical wards. Comparison between complicated appendicitis rates in the COVID‐19 era and similar period in previous year was performed. Results All seven children presented with complicated appendicitis. Main reasons for the delayed diagnosis during the COVID‐19 era were parental concern, telemedicine use and insufficient evaluation. Higher complication rates were found during the COVID‐19 era compared to similar period in previous year (22% vs 11%, P‐value .06). Conclusion The fear from COVID‐19 pandemic may result in delayed diagnosis and higher complication rates in common paediatric medical conditions. We believe caregivers and healthcare providers should not withhold necessary medical care since delay in diagnosis and treatment in these routinely seen medical emergencies may become as big of a threat as COVID‐19 itself.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pediatr Surg
                J Pediatr Surg
                Journal of Pediatric Surgery
                Published by Elsevier Inc.
                0022-3468
                1531-5037
                19 October 2020
                19 October 2020
                Affiliations
                [a ]Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons / NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, 3959 Broadway CH2N, New York, NY 10032
                [b ]Department of Biostatistics, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Heath, 722 W 168 th St, New York, NY 10032
                [c ]Division of Pediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical Center / NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children's Hospital, 525 East 68 th Street, New York, NY 10065
                [d ]Division of Pediatric Emergency Medicine, Department of Emergency Medicine, Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons / NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, 3959 Broadway CH2N, New York, NY 10032
                Author notes
                [* ]Corresponding author at: Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, 3959 Broadway CH2N, New York, NY, 10032.
                Article
                S0022-3468(20)30756-9
                10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2020.10.008
                7569380
                © 2020 Published by Elsevier Inc.

                Since January 2020 Elsevier has created a COVID-19 resource centre with free information in English and Mandarin on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The COVID-19 resource centre is hosted on Elsevier Connect, the company's public news and information website. Elsevier hereby grants permission to make all its COVID-19-related research that is available on the COVID-19 resource centre - including this research content - immediately available in PubMed Central and other publicly funded repositories, such as the WHO COVID database with rights for unrestricted research re-use and analyses in any form or by any means with acknowledgement of the original source. These permissions are granted for free by Elsevier for as long as the COVID-19 resource centre remains active.

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