Publication date: Sep 22, 2023
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on elective orthopedic surgery have yet to be reported at the population level in Canada. We sought to detail the effect of the pandemic on patients who underwent total hip arthroplasty (THA) and total knee arthroplasty (TKA), and on surgeons with respect to surgical volume, wait times and health care quality. We compared patient length of hospital stay, revisions, readmissions and emergency department presentations between pre-pandemic (April 2019 to February 2020) and postpandemic (April 2020 to February 2021) cohorts of patients who underwent inpatient THAs or TKAs. Wait times for THA and TKA in Ontario were similarly collected. Case volumes for THA and TKA decreased by 30% during the pandemic. There were significantly fewer medically complex cases during this time period (p < 0. 001). Length of hospital stay was reduced from 2. 2 to 1. 8 days (p < 0. 001). Patients were less likely to visit the emergency department within 30 days of surgery (p < 0. 001). Patients who underwent TKA were also more likely to be discharged directly home (p = 0. 025). There was no difference in rate of revision surgery or readmission within 30 days. The proportion of patients meeting the standard benchmark wait time in Ontario was significantly lower (p < 0. 001). The corresponding wait time to treatment increased significantly (p < 0. 001). The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on elective THA and TKA case volumes and wait times was significant. Patients having surgery during the pandemic were less medically complex, had shorter length of hospital stays and had significantly less health care utilization.