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BACKGROUND: Measures taking aim at minimizing the risk of coronavirus transmission and fear of infection may affect decisions to seek care for other medical emergency conditions. The purpose of this analysis was to analyze intermediate-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on neuroradiological emergency consultations (NECs). METHODS: We conducted an ambispective study on NEC requests to a university hospital from a teleradiological network covering 13 hospitals in Germany. Weekly NEC rates for prepandemic calendar weeks (CW) 01/2019-09/2020 were compared with rates during first COVID-19 wave (CW 10-20/2020), first loosening of restrictions (CW 21-29/2020), intensified COVID-19 testing (CW 30-39/2020) and second COVID-19 wave (CW 40-53/2020), and contrasted with COVID-19 incidence in Germany. RESULTS: A total of n = 10 810 NECs were analyzed. Prepandemic NEC rates were stable over time (median: 103, IQR: 97-115). Upon the first COVID-19 wave in Germany, NEC rates declined sharply (median: 86, IQR: 69-92; p < 0.001) but recovered within weeks. Changes in NEC rates after first loosening of restrictions (median: 109, IQR: 98-127; p = 0. 188), a phase of intensified testing (median: 111, IQR: 101-114; p = 0.434) and as of a second COVID-19 wave (median: 102, IQR: 94-112; p = 0. 462) were not significant. Likewise, patient age and gender distribution remained constant. CONCLUSION: Upon the first pandemic COVID-19 wave in Germany, NEC rates declined but recovered within weeks. It is unknown whether this recovery reflects improved medical care and test capabilities or an adjustment of the patients' behaviour.
Pfaff, J. A. R., Harlan, M. E., Pfaff, G., Hubert, A., & Bendszus, M. (2021). Neuroradiological emergency consultations during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Neurological Research and Practice, 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s42466-021-00147-8