BACKGROUND: Patients undergoing lower limb arthroplasty who are severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) positive at the time of surgery have a high risk of mortality. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Care Excellence and the British Orthopaedic Association advise self-isolation for 14 days preoperatively in patients at a high risk of adverse outcomes due to COVID-19. The aim of the study is to assess whether preoperative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for SARS-CoV-2 could be performed at between 48 and 72 hours preoperatively with specific advice about minimizing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 restricted to between PCR and admission. METHODS: A multicentre, international, observational cohort study of 1,000 lower limb arthroplasty cases was performed. The dual primary outcomes were 30-day conversion to SARS-CoV-2 positive and 30-day SARS-CoV-2 mortality. Secondary outcomes included 30-day SARS-CoV-2 morbidity. RESULTS: Of the 1,000 cases, 935 (94%) had a PCR between 48 and 72 hours preoperatively. All cases were admitted to and had surgery through a COVID-free pathway. Primary knee arthroplasty was performed in 41% of cases, primary hip arthroplasty in 40%, revision knee arthroplasty in 11%, and revision hip arthroplasty in 9%. Six percent of operations were emergency operations. No cases of SARS-CoV-2 were identified within the first 30 days. CONCLUSION: Preoperative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test between 48 and 72 hours preoperatively with advice about minimizing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 restricted to between PCR and admission in conjunction with a COVID-free pathway is safe for patients undergoing primary and revision hip and knee arthroplasty. Preoperative SARS-CoV-2 PCR test alone may be safe but further adequately powered studies are required. This information is important for shared decision making with patients during the current pandemic.
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COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, morbidity, mortality, orthopedic surgery, patient outcomes, Arthroplasty, Replacement, Knee, COVID-19, Humans, Pandemics, Polymerase Chain Reaction, SARS-CoV-2