SAN ANTONIO – Elective surgeries and non-emergency procedures were put on hold in Texas in late March as the state prepared hospitals for an influx of COVID-19 patients. Gov. Greg Abbott lifted those restrictions on April 22.
KSAT viewers asked, “Is it safe to have elective surgery now?”
We asked that question Friday to Doctor Lyssa Ochoa, a vascular surgeon in San Antonio.
Ochoa said the first thing a patient should consider is how urgent the elective surgery is.
“Some cases can probably wait for a month but there are some that have already been put on the back burner for three to four weeks and probably should be done sooner or later,” Ochoa said.
The next thing to consider is whether the surgery must be performed in a hospital or whether it can be performed in a more controlled area such an ambulatory surgical center or an outpatient cath lab, she said.
“I feel like those areas that are smaller, have a more controlled environment and theoretically could decrease the risk of COVID-19,” Ochoa said.
Another question Ochoa said a patient should ask their doctor is if they can be tested for COVID-19 before the surgery.
“The reason that’s important is that there have been some early studies -- and we don’t know for sure, but it’s possible that patients that may be asymptomatic, (that have)no symptoms, that undergo general anesthesia may have some complications more so because they are positive. In that regard, they would want to hopefully delay that surgery until they test negative,” Ochoa said.
Ochoa urged patients to be their own best advocate and to be sure to ask their doctors any questions they may have about the procedure and safety precautions.
She also expressed concern that too many people are avoiding doctors right now, even some with serious health issues.
She urged patients to reach out to their doctors and specialists with any health concerns they may have, saying there are ways that doctors can safely see and treat patients.
Ochoa said waiting too long to see a doctor often leads to worse complications.
Click here for Dr. Ochoa’s answer to the question, “Does COVID-19 cause blood clots, strokes?”
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