Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Patients' Perceptions of Safety and Need for Elective Foot and Ankle Surgery in the United States.



With the development of the COVID-19 pandemic, elective foot and ankle surgeries were delayed throughout the United States to divert health care resources and limit exposure. Little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on patient's willingness to proceed with elective procedures once restrictions are lifted and factors contributing to such decision.


Patients across 6 US orthopedic institutions who had their elective foot and ankle surgeries cancelled secondary to the pandemic were given a questionnaire. Specifically, patients were asked about their willingness to move forward with surgery once restrictions were lifted and if not why. Pain-level and pain medication use were also assessed. Univariate analysis was used to identify factors that contribute to patient's decisions.


A total of 150 patients participated in this study. Twenty-one (14%) opted not to proceed with surgery once restrictions were lifted. Forty-three percent (n = 9) listed concern for COVID infection as the reason; however, 14% of them would proceed if procedures were performed in surgery center. Twenty-nine (19% of the total cohort) patients had increased pain and 11% of patients were taking more pain meds because of the delay to their procedure. Patients who decided not to proceed with surgery reported pain reduction (3% vs 14%) and lower increase in pain medication used (5% vs 12%).


COVID-19 has made a significant impact on the health care system. Delay of elective foot and ankle procedures impact patient quality of life and outcomes. Access to surgery centers may provide a partial solution during the pandemic.

Level of evidence

Level III.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Chan, Jimmy J, Kevin K Chen, Peter Choi, Edward O Rojas, Oliver N Schipper, Amiethab Aiyer, Cesar de Cesar Netto, Amgad M Haleem, et al. (2021). Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Patients' Perceptions of Safety and Need for Elective Foot and Ankle Surgery in the United States. Foot & ankle orthopaedics, 6(2). p. 24730114211013788. 10.1177/24730114211013788 Retrieved from

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.


de Cesar Netto

Cesar de Cesar Netto

Instructor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

The desire to explore, research, and understand things in great detail has been the driving force throughout my career. This passion drew me to Foot and Ankle, a subspecialty expanding in orthopedic knowledge with many unsolved mysteries. After completing my Medical School, Orthopedic Residency, and Foot and Ankle Fellowship at the renowned University of Sao Paulo, ranked number one in Latin America for several years, and after five years of clinical practice in Brazil, this desire to explore and understand also brought me to the United States. As part of my Ph.D. program with the University of Sao Paulo, I joined as a visiting scientist and research fellow for Dr. Lew Schon at the traditional MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore-MD, where I developed an animal model of induced Achilles tendinopathy. 

As a practicing physician in Brazil, I achieved multiple goals in my early career. Academics have been a large component of my practice, allowing me to participate in young physicians' education and challenge my understanding of orthopedic fundamentals. As the elected Chief of Orthopaedic Residents from 2011 to 2013, I presented 245 lectures to orthopedic surgeons and in multidisciplinary conferences. My practice as an orthopedic surgeon in Sao Paulo allowed me to combine the Brazilian enthusiasm for soccer, serving as the team physician and Foot and Ankle advisor for the professional soccer team Sport Club Corinthians Paulista for almost five years.

As a Foot and Ankle surgeon, I constantly sought to confront the unsolved questions in our orthopedic practices. During my Ph.D. studies with the University of Sao Paulo, I aimed to maximize my research experience and clinical exposure. During my time in Maryland, I have engaged in multiple research projects, collaborating with MedStar Union Memorial and Johns Hopkins University to evaluate and clinically implement innovative imaging techniques, including weight-bearing CT, dynamic CT, 3D MRI, and metal artifact reduction sequence (MARS) MRI.

I was also amazed by the American medical system's resources that create opportunities for motivated physicians to excel in clinical work, educational teaching endeavors, and research investigations. While this balance requires dedication and precise time management, I have been fortunate to work with a variety of mentors who demonstrated to me how great it could be to practice in the US. With that in mind, I ended up deciding to pursue the Academic Pathway of the ABOS Certification. I have completed a total of three Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Fellowships in the US. The first was at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), the second at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City, and the third and final at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore-MD. It was a long but very pleasant and rewarding pathway that allowed me to grow as a person, as a clinician, and as a surgeon while being fortunate to create lifetime bonds with several mentors. Once I was done with my fellowships, my objective was to combine my unique background with my innovative and instructive training and apply the acquired knowledge as an Academic Assistant Professor at the Department of Orthopedics of the Carver College of Medicine at the University of Iowa.

The almost four years in Iowa City have been a blast! The leadership of the Orthopedic Department entirely and constantly supported me, and together, we achieved a lot in a relatively short amount of time. I utilized my academic start-up grant to acquire the first Weight-Bearing CT scanner in the Country that allows the hip, knee, foot, and ankle to be scanned under load simultaneously. With the scanner, I founded and served as the Director of the University of Iowa Orthopedic Functional Imaging Research Laboratory (OFIRL), which rapidly achieved an established, recognized position in the research and orthopedic foot and ankle community. I also had the unique opportunity to care for the State of Iowa community suffering from orthopedic foot and ankle problems, always excelling in providing high-quality and passionate clinical and surgical care. I’ll be forever grateful to my leadership, partners, and colleagues in Iowa City, as well as my patients, who gave me the utmost opportunity to care for them.

As an Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopedics at Duke University, I hope to contribute further to the American society and North Carolina Community, taking excellent care of patients, teaching and mentoring medical students, residents, and fellows, and helping the orthopedic foot and ankle surgery research to excel.

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