Background: The aim of this study was to report the experience of one of the major “hubs” for vascular surgery in Lombardy, Italy, during the first 7 weeks after total lockdown due to COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Data from all patients treated at our Department since the decision of the regional healthcare authorities of Lombardy to centralize surgical specialties creating a hub/spoke system (March 9, 2020) were prospectively collected and compared with a retrospectively collected cohort from the same period of year 2019. Primary study end point was defined as primary clinical success. Secondary end points were defined as in-hospital mortality and/or any in hospital major adverse event or lower limb amputation. Results: One hundred sixteen patients were treated (81 men, 70%; median age: 71 years, IQR 65–81). Thirty-two patients (28%) were addressed from spoke hospitals directly referring to our hub, 19 (16%) from hospitals belonging to other hub/spoke nets, 48 (41%) came directly from our emergency department, and 17 (15%) were already hospitalized for COVID-19 pneumonia. Acute limb ischemia was the most observed disease, occurring in 31 (26.7%), 12 (38.7%) of whom were found positive for COVID-19 pneumonia on admission, whereas 3 (9.7%) became positive during hospitalization. Chronic limb ischemia was the indication to treatment in 24 (20.7%) patients. Six (5.2%) patients underwent primary amputation for irreversible ischemia. Aortic emergencies included 21 cases (18.1%), including 13 (61.9%) symptomatic abdominal aortic or iliac aneurysms, 4 (19.0%) thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysms, 2 (9.5%) cases of acute type B aortic dissection (one post-traumatic). Seventeen (14.7%) patients were admitted for symptomatic carotid stenosis (no COVID-19 patients); all of them underwent carotid endarterectomy. Seventeen (14.7%) cases were treated for other vascular emergencies. Overall, at a median follow-up of 23 ± 13 days, primary clinical success was 87.1% and secondary clinical success was 95.9%. We recorded 3 in-hospital deaths for an overall mortality rate of 2.6%. Compared with the 2019 cohort, “COVID era” patients were older (72 vs. 63 years, P = 0.002), more frequently transferred from other hospitals (44% vs. 21%, P = 0.014) and more frequently with decompensated chronic limb threatening ischemia (21% vs. 3%, P = 0.015); surgical outcomes were similar between the 2 cohorts. Conclusions: Since its appearance, SARS-CoV-2 has been testing all national healthcare systems which founds themselves facing an unprecedented emergency. Late referral in the pandemic period could seriously worsen limb prognosis; this aspect should be known and addressed by health care providers. Vascular surgical outcomes in pre-COVID and COVID era were comparable in our experience.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine