gms | German Medical Science

72. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC)
Joint Meeting mit der Polnischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC) e. V.

06.06. - 09.06.2021

Neurosurgery in times of crisis – results of an international survey regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on neurosurgical practice

Neurochirurgie in Zeiten der Krise – Ergebnisse einer internationalen Umfrage zum Einfluss der Corona-Pandemie auf die neurochirurgische Tätigkeit

Meeting Abstract

  • presenting/speaker Sami Ridwan - Klinikum Ibbenbüren, Neurochirurgie, Ibbenbüren, Deutschland; Paracelsus-Klinik Osnabrück, Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Osnabrück, Deutschland
  • Mario Ganau - Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Department of Neurosurgery, Oxford, Vereinigtes Königreich
  • Cesare Zoia - Fondazione IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Department of Neurosurgery, Pavia, Italien
  • Marike Broekman - Haaglanden Medical Center, The Hague & Leiden University Medical Center, Department of Neurosurgery, Leiden, Niederlande; Massachusetts General Hospital, Department of Neurology, Boston, MA, Vereinigte Staaten
  • Alexander Grote - Evangelisches Klinikum Bethel, Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Bielefeld, Deutschland
  • Hans Clusmann - Universitätsklinikum Aachen, Klinik für Neurochirurgie, Aachen, Deutschland

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. 72. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie (DGNC), Joint Meeting mit der Polnischen Gesellschaft für Neurochirurgie. sine loco [digital], 06.-09.06.2021. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2021. DocV252

doi: 10.3205/21dgnc237, urn:nbn:de:0183-21dgnc2371

Published: June 4, 2021

© 2021 Ridwan et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Objective: Due to international and national political measures dictated by the nature of the pandemic, and the different timescale of diffusion of SARS-CoV-2 throughout the world, neurosurgeons were flooded with a variety of regional regulations, protocols, and timely produced standard operating procedures. Several editorials and articles have been published since. Qualitative studies on how the pandemic affected neurosurgeons personally, with additional focus on their practice, are still scarce. Here we present the results of an international online survey.

Methods: Neurosurgeons were invited to participate in an online survey of 42 questions, endorsed by the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS). Personal perception and practice relevant information were captured: departmental data, personal feeling of safety, financial security, local precautions, number of surgeries performed, changes in daily routine, and other practice-related information were inquired. Differences among practice types were closely reviewed.

Results: 204 neurosurgeons responded (April-May 2020). Most participants were from Germany, followed by Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom (UK), thus providing a balance between nations initially mildly affected (Germany and the UK) versus those severely affected (Spain and Italy) by the first wave of the pandemic. Neurosurgeons from Lombardy accounted for 5% of total responses. Participants were EANS members (73%), consultants (57.9%), from university hospitals (64.5%). While 65.7% of participants thought their institutions were adequately prepared, lack of testing for SARS-CoV-2, and scarcity of personal protective equipment were still matters of concern. Only 15% continued elective service, whereas 18.7% had already transitioned to COVID-19 and emergency medical services. Overall surgical activity dropped by 68% (cranial by 54%, spine by 71%), and even emergencies decreased by 35%. COVID-19 prompted changes in communication in 74% of departments, 44% increased telemedicine by >50%. While most neurosurgeons had concerns about personal and families’ health, financial outlook appeared to be gloomy only for private practitioners.

Conclusion: The lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 outbreak called for drastic change of working routine and resulted in a dramatic decrease of elective surgical procedures. Neurosurgeons share common concerns but were not equally exposed to the personal health and financial dangers of the ongoing pandemic.