The Role of Telemedicine in Surgical Specialties During the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Scoping Review

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World Journal of Surgery




BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to evaluate the current body of evidence on the use of telemedicine in surgical subspecialties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: This was a scoping review conducted in compliance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR). MEDLINE via Ovid, PubMed, and EMBASE were systematically searched for any reports discussing telemedicine use in surgery and surgical specialties during the first period (February 2020-August 8, 2020) and second 6-month period (August 9-March 4, 2021) of the COVID-19 pandemic.

RESULTS: Of 466 articles screened through full text, 277 articles were included for possible qualitative and/or quantitative data synthesis. The majority of publications in the first 6 months were in orthopedic surgery, followed by general surgery and neurosurgery, whereas in the second 6 months of COVID-19 pandemic, urology and neurosurgery were the most productive, followed by transplant and plastic surgery. Most publications in the first 6 months were opinion papers (80%), which decreased to 33% in the second 6 months. The role of telemedicine in different aspects of surgical care and surgical education was summarized stratifying by specialty.

CONCLUSION: Telemedicine has increased access to care of surgical patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, but whether this practice will continue post-pandemic remains unknown.