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What constitutes urgent endoscopy? A social media snapshot of gastroenterologists' views during the COVID-19 pandemic. Endosc Int Open 2020 May;8(5):E693-E698



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Background and study aims  There is a consensus among gastroenterology organizations that elective endoscopic procedures should be deferred during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the decision to perform urgent procedures and to defer entirely elective procedures is mostly evident, there is a wide "middle ground" of time-sensitive but not technically urgent or emergent endoscopic interventions. We aimed to survey gastroenterologists worldwide using Twitter to help elucidate these definitions using commonly encountered clinical scenarios during the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods  A 16-question survey was designed by the authors to include common clinical scenarios that do not have clear guidelines regarding the timing or urgency of endoscopic evaluation. This survey was posted on Twitter. The survey remained open to polling for 48 hours. During this time, multiple gastroenterologists and fellows with prominent social media presence were tagged to disseminate the survey. Results  The initial tweet had 38,795 impressions with a total of 2855 engagements. There was significant variation in responses from gastroenterologists regarding timing of endoscopy in these semi-urgent scenarios. There were only three of 16 scenarios for which more than 70 % of gastroenterologists agreed on procedure-timing . For example, significant variation was noted in regard to timing of upper endoscopy in patients with melena, with 44.5 % of respondents believing that everyone with melena should undergo endoscopic evaluation at this time. Similarly, about 35 % of respondents thought that endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography should only be performed in patients with choledocholithiasis with abdominal pain or jaundice. Conclusion  Our analysis shows that there is currently lack of consensus among gastroenterologists in regards to timing of semi-urgent or non-life-threatening procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. These results support the need for the ongoing development of societal guidance for these "semi-urgent" scenarios to help gastroenterologists in making difficult triage decisions.

Author List

Bilal M, Simons M, Rahman AU, Smith ZL, Umar S, Cohen J, Sawhney MS, Berzin TM, Pleskow DK


Zachary Smith DO Associate Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin