The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on gastrointestinal diseases: a single-center cross-sectional study in central Greece

Authors Apostolis Papaefthymiou, Apostolos Koffas, Jannis Kountouras, Michael Doulberis, Agoritsa Kaltsa, Fotis Tsiopoulos, Grigorios Christodoulidis, Andreas Kapsoritakis, Spyros Potamianos.


Background The current COVID-19 pandemic induced a suppressive environment for healthcare professionals and patients, especially during the lockdown period. Except for the direct burden of the COVID-19, collateral damage has been identified concerning other diseases. Τhe aim of this study was to evaluate the potential impact of the lockdown on the non-COVID-19 patients’ outcome in a tertiary gastroenterology department.

Methods Patients admitted to our department during the lockdown period (23 March- 4 May 2020) and during the respective previous year’s timeframe were recruited. Sex, age, comorbidities, presenting symptoms, final diagnosis, therapeutic management, duration of hospitalization, and outcome were evaluated. A direct comparison was performed to investigate the potential impact of the lockdown on the duration of hospitalization and the final outcome.

Results A total of 161 patients were included to our analysis with 1:1 male:female ratio and mean age 70.86 years. Most of the cases experienced gastrointestinal tract bleeding, biliary stone disease manifestations, or gastrointestinal malignancy complications, and 85.1% were discharged. Fewer patients were hospitalized during the lockdown period (40%), whereas the duration of hospitalization was significantly longer (7.69±4.55 vs. 5.76±4.36 days). Binary logistic regression analysis and sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the quarantine was associate  with increased prevalence of negative outcomes (odds ratio 5.21, 95% confidence interval 1.66-16.34; P=0.005), especially in cases with gastrointestinal malignancy and acute pancreatitis (P=0.045 and P=0.041, respectively).

Conclusion The increase in the negative outcomes of common gastrointestinal diseases and the duration of hospitalization during the lockdown raise reasonable concerns regarding healthcare policies against further outbreaks.

Keywords COVID-19, gastrointestinal diseases, hospitalization, prognosis

Ann Gastroenterol 2021; 34 (3): 323-330

Original Articles