ICMR advises against surgery of Covid-recovered patients before 6 weeks


Experts at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the national task force for Covid-19 have advised people who have recovered from Covid-19 and need to undergo non-urgent surgery to delay the process for at least six weeks to ensure “faster healing and convalescent hearing”.

Surgeons are advising patients to undergo a Covid-19 test before undergoing the surgery. However, experts say if a person who recently recovered from Covid-19 undergoes RT-PCR test, then the test result may come positive result due to the presence of harmless non-viable dead-virus remnants in the body.

Speaking to The Times of India, infectious diseases expert Sanjay Pujari said Covid-19 reinfection is confirmed only after 102 days of diagnosis. Hence, it is advisable to delay surgery for the said time. However, if anyone requires emergency surgery, then it must be done immediately while taking all the necessary precautions, Dr Pujari said.

If a patient experiences recurrence of Covid symptoms, re-testing and consultation must be considered, Dr Pujari added.

“Residual symptoms such as fatigue, shortness of breath, and chest pain are common in patients who have had Covid. These symptoms can be present for more than 60 days after diagnosis,” Dr Pujari told TOI.

Sanjay Kolte, president of Poona Surgical Society, said, “Retesting recovered patients within 102 days from Covid diagnosis only addds to anxiety and is a wastage of money. Importantly, surgeons should adopt universal precautions while performing elective surgery rather than insisting on RT-PCR reports.”

A study published in health journal Anaesthesia in March this year stated that patients are more than two-and-a-half times more likely to die after their surgery if the procedure takes place within six weeks of testing Covid positive.

According to doctors, these are the suggested waiting period for a patient before undergoing surgery.

– Four weeks for an asymptomatic patient or someone who has recovered from only mild, non-respiratory symptoms

– Six weeks for a symptomatic patient (including cough, shortness of breath) who did not require hospitalization

– Eight to 10 weeks for the asymptomatic patient who is is diabetic, immunocompromised, or was hospitalized with Covid-19

– Twelve weeks for a patient who was admitted to ICU with Covid-19 and so forth

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