Impact of COVID-19 on Neurosurgery in Brazil's Health System: The Reality of a Developing Country Affected by the Pandemic

Leonardo J.M. de Macêdo Filho, Ana Carolina A. Aragão, Vito Thayson D. dos Santos, Lívia B.A. Galvão, Nathan A. Shlobin, Gaetano De Biase, Paola Suarez-Meade, Joao Paulo C. Almeida, Alfredo Quinones-Hinojosa, Lucas A.F. de Albuquerque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The coronavirus disease identified in 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic changed neurosurgery protocols to provide ongoing care for patients while ensuring the safety of health care workers. In Brazil, the rapid spread of the disease led to new challenges in the health system. Neurooncology practice was one of the most affected by the pandemic due to restricted elective procedures and new triage protocols. We aim to characterize the impact of the pandemic on neurosurgery in Brazil. Methods: We analyzed 112 different types of neurosurgical procedures, with special detail in 11 neurooncology procedures, listed in the Brazilian Hospital Information System records in the DATASUS database between February and July 2019 and the same period in 2020. Linear regression and paired t-test analyses were performed and considered statistically significant at P < 0.05. Results: There was an overall decrease of 21.5% (28,858 cases) in all neurosurgical procedures, impacting patients needing elective procedures (−42.46%) more than emergency surgery (−5.93%). Neurooncology procedures decreased by 14.89%. Nonetheless, the mortality rate during hospitalization increased by 21.26%. Linear regression analysis in hospitalizations (Slope = 0.9912 ± 0.07431; CI [95%] = 0.8231−1.159) and total cost (Slope = 1.03 ± 0.03501; CI [95%] = 0.9511−1.109) in the 11 different types of neurooncology procedures showed a P < 0.0001. The mean cost per type of procedure showed an 11.59% increase (P = 0.0172) between 2019 and 2020. Conclusions: The COVID-19 pandemic has increased mortality, decreased hospitalizations, and therefore decreased overall costs, despite increased costs per procedure for a variety of neurosurgical procedures. Our study serves as a stark example of the effect of the pandemic on neurosurgical care in settings of limited resources and access to care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e142-e149
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Nov 2021


  • COVID-19
  • Developing countries
  • Neurosurgery
  • Socioeconomic factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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