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Comments about: COVID-19: Initial experience of an international group of hand surgeons

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  • HEE Yorkshire and Humber
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Introduction Several articles have been published about the reorganisation of surgical activity during the COVID-19 pandemic but few, if any, have focused on the impact that this has had on emergency and trauma surgery. Our aim was to review the most current data on COVID-19 to provide essential suggestions on how to manage the acute abdomen during the pandemic. Methods A systematic review was conducted of the most relevant English language articles on COVID-19 and surgery published between 15 December 2019 and 30 March 2020. Findings Access to the operating theatre is almost exclusively restricted to emergencies and oncological procedures. The use of laparoscopy in COVID-19 positive patients should be cautiously considered. The main risk lies in the presence of the virus in the pneumoperitoneum: the aerosol released in the operating theatre could contaminate both staff and the environment. Conclusions During the COVID-19 pandemic, all efforts should be deployed in order to evaluate the feasibility of postponing surgery until the patient is no longer considered potentially infectious or at risk of perioperative complications. If surgery is deemed necessary, the emergency surgeon must minimise the risk of exposure to the virus by involving a minimal number of healthcare staff and shortening the occupation of the operating theatre. In case of a lack of security measures to enable safe laparoscopy, open surgery should be considered.
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The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected medical treatment protocols throughout the world. While the pandemic does not affect hand surgeons at first glance, they have a role to play. The purpose of this study was to describe the different measures that have been put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by hand surgeons throughout the world. The survey comprised 47 surgeons working in 34 countries who responded to an online questionnaire. We found that the protocols varied in terms of visitors, health professionals in the operating room, patient waiting areas, wards and emergency rooms. Based on these preliminary findings, an international consensus on hand surgery practices for the current viral pandemic, and future ones, needs to be built rapidly.
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Medical texts continue to perpetuate the belief that epinephrine should not be injected in fingers. Little attention has been paid to analyze the evidence that created this belief to see whether it is valid. The significance is that elective epinephrine finger injection has been shown to remove the need for a tourniquet, and therefore delete sedation and general anesthesia for much of hand surgery. All of the evidence for the antiadrenaline dogma comes from 21 mostly pre-1950 case reports of finger ischemia associated with procaine and cocaine injection with epinephrine. The authors performed an in-depth analysis of those 21 cases to determine their validity as evidence. They also examined in detail all of the other evidence in the literature surrounding issues of safety with procaine, lidocaine, and epinephrine injection in the finger. The adrenaline digital infarction cases that created the dogma are invalid evidence because they were also injected with either procaine or cocaine, which were both known to cause digital infarction on their own at that time, and none of the 21 adrenaline infarction cases had an attempt at phentolamine rescue. The evidence that created the dogma that adrenaline should not be injected into the fingers is clearly not valid. However, there is considerable valid evidence in the literature that supports the tenet that properly used adrenaline in the fingers is safe, and that it removes the need for a tourniquet and therefore removes the need for sedation and general anesthesia for many hand operations.