Publication date: Aug 01, 2023
Background This study sought to determine the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination’s effects on the number of patients presenting with emergent surgical illnesses or requiring emergency general surgical procedures. We compared the number of presenting cases and surgical emergencies before the pandemic, in 2019, and during the pandemic, before and after the COVID-19 vaccination’s introduction. Method This observational retrospective chart review was conducted at a tertiary hospital in Al-Qassim, Saudi Arabia. The data were retrospectively collected for three periods (July 1 to September 30) in 2019, 2020, and 2021 using a data collection sheet for demographic data, visit date, comorbidities, emergency procedure type, COVID-19 test result, length of hospitalization, ICU admission status, and surgical case mortality. Results The study included 152 participants with a mean age of 36. 1 (SD: 16) years, and 69. 7% of them were male. Common surgical conditions were identified as acute appendicitis (49. 3%), skin abscesses and pilonidal sinus (21. 7%), and diabetic foot (9. 2%) across all three years. The most frequent (48. 7%) surgical procedure was appendectomy. A decrease in surgical emergencies rate was observed during the year 2020, as compared to 2019 and 2021. The general surgery emergency rate was highest in 2021 among patients admitted for procedures post-vaccination (38. 8%). Conclusion Common surgical emergencies were most frequent in 2021, after the COVID-19 vaccine’s introduction. Future research areas include the impact of the pandemic on delays or the severity and complication of surgical or medical cases.