Trends in United States pediatric neurosurgical practice during the COVID-19 pandemic
COVID-19; Pediatric neurosurgery; Procedures; Trends
There is minimal information on COVID-19 pandemic's national impact on pediatric neurosurgical operative volumes. In this study, using a national database, TriNetX, we compared the overall and seasonal trends of pediatric neurosurgical procedure volumes in the United States during the pandemic to pre-pandemic periods. In the United States, the incidence of COVID-19 began to rise in September 2020 and reached its maximum peak between December 2020 and January 2021. During this time, there was an inverse relationship between pediatric neurosurgical operative volumes and the incidence of COVID-19 cases. From March 2020 to May 2021, there was a significant decrease in the number of pediatric shunt (−11.7% mean change, p = 0.006), epilepsy (−16.6%, p < 0.001), and neurosurgical trauma (−13.8%, p < 0.001) surgeries compared to pre-pandemic years. The seasonal analysis also yielded a broad decrease in most subcategories in spring 2020 with significant decreases in pediatric spine, epilepsy, and trauma cases. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to report a national decline in pediatric shunt, epilepsy, and neurosurgical trauma operative volumes during the pandemic. This could be due to fear-related changes in health-seeking behavior as well as underdiagnosis during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Journal of Clinical Neuroscience