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In this Belgian study, the authors looked at the impact of delaying otologic surgery by sending an online survey to 44 adult patients diagnosed with benign ear pathology whose surgery was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The questionnaire was mainly based on the Otology Questionnaire Amsterdam (OQUA), a validated generic questionnaire for scoring the severity and impact of symptoms, and was supplemented by questions on evolution of symptoms and impact during lockdown. There were responses from 32 patients (73%) and the surgery ranged from myringoplasty to mastoid surgery to cochlear implantation. The median waiting time was 27 weeks (range 12-51 weeks), compared to a usual 12 weeks’ waiting time. Around 60% of patients felt that their symptoms had not changed, or had decreased, during the period of delay. Around 30% of patients were concerned that the severity of their complaints or impact would worsen if surgery was further delayed. Approximately 90% of patients reported general difficulties related to their ear symptoms, and the main complaints were of feelings of concern and irritation (85%) and fatigue (80%). The impact of symptoms was relatively stable over the lockdown period with reported increases over this time of general difficulties, irritation, anger and feelings of concern. Complaints of pain, pressure and hearing loss did worsen over the period of delay. The study did not look at the impact of delaying surgery on complexity of surgery. The study concludes that for the majority of patients, the delays in otologic surgery due to the COVID-19 pandemic have not resulted in a significant worsening of ear symptoms and that the OQUA can be a useful screening tool for determining planning order for postponed elective otologic surgery.

Impact of delay of otologic surgical interventions during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Roggeman Q, Denys S, Pietermans L, et al.
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Sunil Sharma

Alder Hey Children's Hospital, UK.

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