COVID-19 and Mortality in the Global Surgical Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Prisca Obidike, Allison Chang, Olivia Calisi, Jungeun J. Lee, Paddy Ssentongo, Anna E. Ssentongo, John S. Oh*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Introduction: To date, no systematic review or meta-analysis has comprehensively estimated the risk of mortality by surgery type on an international scale. We aim to delineate the risk of mortality in patients with COVID-19 who undergo surgery. Methods: PubMed (MEDLINE), Scopus, OVID, the World Health Organization Global Literature on Coronavirus Disease, and Corona–Central databases were searched from December 2019 through January 2022. Studies providing data on mortality in patients undergoing surgery were included. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses guidelines for abstracting data were followed and performed independently by two reviewers. The main outcome was mortality in patients with COVID-19. Results: Of a total of 4023 studies identified, 46 studies with 80,015 patients met our inclusion criteria. The mean age was 67 y; 57% were male. Surgery types included general (14.9%), orthopedic (23.4%), vascular (6.4%), thoracic (10.6%), and urologic (8.5%). Patients undergoing surgery with COVID-19 elicited a nine-fold increased risk of mortality (relative risk [RR] 8.99, 95% confidence interval [CI] 4.96-16.32) over those without COVID-19. In low-income and middle-income countries (RR: 16.04, 95% CI: 4.59-56.12), the mortality risk was twice as high compared to high-income countries (RR: 7.50, 95% CI: 4.30-13.09). Conclusions: Mortality risk in surgical patients with COVID-19 compared to those without is increased almost 10-fold. The risk was highest in low-income and middle-income countries compared to high-income countries, suggesting a disproportionate effect of the pandemic on resource-constrained regions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-100
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Surgical Research
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • International
  • Meta-analysis
  • Mortality
  • Surgery
  • Systematic review


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