The impact of COVID-19 on orthopaedic trauma: A retrospective comparative study from a single university hospital in Italy
The COVID-19 outbreak strongly affected Italy, putting a strain on the National healthcare system. Hospitals quickly reorganized the activity to cope with the emergency. This retrospective comparative study aimed to analyze the impact of the lockdown imposed in Italy during the COVID-19 outbreak on acute orthopedic trauma, in order to identify critical issues for improvement and future planning. We collected data on all the trauma admissions to a single University hospital DEA (Department of Emergency and Acceptance) in Rome during the COVID- 19 pandemic lockdown in Italy, comparing them with the corresponding period in 2019. We reported demographic data; the characteristics of the injury, including the anatomical location, fracture, sprain, dislocation, contusion, laceration, whether the injury site was exposed or closed, where the injury occurred, and polytrauma. We also recorded the waiting time in the emergency room and mode of transportation. The study sample was composed of 1199 patients, 636 (53.04%) males and 563 (46.96%) females. The overall number of admissions in 2019 (pre-COVID-19 period) was 995; then it was 204 during COVID-19 outbreak in 2020. The average age of the 2020 group was 51.9 ± 24.8 years, significantly higher than that of the 2019 group (41.4 ± 25.7) (p<0.0001). In particular, elderly patients (≥65 years) were the most commonly involved in the COVID-19 group, while in the pre- COVID-19 period they were middle-aged adults (15-44 years) (p<0.0001). The injury occurred at home in 65.7% of cases in the 2020 group, and in 32.3% of patients in the 2019 group. Concerning the injury type, in both groups, the most common injury was a fracture (45.1% in 2019; 62.7% in 2020) (p<0.0001). The most injured anatomical location during COVID-19 lockdown was the hand (14.2%), while in the pre-COVID- 19 group the most frequent injury type was polytrauma (22.8%). Despite the decrease of overall acute trauma referral rates during the COVID-19 outbreak in Italy, the incidence of fractures in elderly individuals remained stable, indicating that not all trauma presentations would necessarily decrease during such times.
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