Background Guidelines regarding head and neck surgical care have evolved during the coronavirus-19 (COVID-19) pandemic. Data on operative management have been limited.
Methods We compared two cohorts of patients undergoing head and neck or reconstructive surgery between March 16, 2019 and April 16, 2019 (pre-COVID-19) and March 16, 2020 and April 16, 2020 (COVID-19) at an academic center. Perioperative, intraoperative, and postoperative outcomes were recorded.
Results There were 63 operations during COVID-19 and 84 operations during pre-COVID-19. During COVID-19, a smaller proportion of patients had benign pathology (12% vs 20%, respectively) and underwent thyroid procedures (2% vs 23%) while a greater proportion of patients underwent microvascular reconstruction +/- ablation (24% vs 12%,). Operative times increased, especially among patients undergoing microvascular reconstruction +/- ablation (687 +/- 112 vs 596 +/- 91 minutes, P = .04). Complication rates and length of stay were similar.
Conclusions During COVID-19, perioperative outcomes were similar, operative time increased, and there were no recorded transmissions to staff or patients. Continued surgical management of head and neck cancer patients can be provided safely.