Two years after COVID-19-related elective orthopedic surgery delays come to an end, the cumulative case backlog is expected to surpass 1 million — and that's in the best-case scenario, according to projections published May 12 in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery.
Study authors conducted a Monte Carlo stochastic simulation-based analysis to forecast post-pandemic volumes of elective inpatient total joint arthroplasties and spinal fusions. They developed projections based on "optimistic, ambivalent and pessimistic scenarios."
If elective orthopedic surgery resumes across the board in June 2020, here's how long until surgical volumes reach 90 percent of levels expected pre-pandemic:
Optimistic scenario: 7 months
Ambivalent scenario: 12 months
Pessimistic scenario: 16 months
"The deferment of elective surgical cases during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic will have a lasting impact on the United States healthcare system," researchers concluded. "As part of disaster mitigation, it is critical to start planning for recovery now."