Published on February 4, 2021

Ahmedabad: The Covid-19 pandemic brought the routine medical procedures to a grinding halt in March last year. But several cancer patients could not wait for the lockdown to be lifted, or could not sustain only on medicines. While the patients were afraid to enter the medical setting fearing Covid-19 infection, it was equally distressing times for the surgeons who were exposed to the aerosols generated by the patients during the procedures.

Dr Kaustubh Patel, senior city-based surgical oncologist (head & neck), said that the initial phase of the pandemic was the most difficult. “After September, the patients started trickling in, and after December, we saw the regular numbers resuming. But in the initial phase, the viral infection was new for us all and we decided to perform life-saving surgeries despite understanding the risk involved,” he said.

For the surgical procedures, the team devised a ‘shield’ in-house. “The moulded hard plastic apparatus had an opening on one side and two holes on the other. After the apparatus is kept on the patient’s head, the surgeon can see the process through transparent plastic sheet. We performed several procedures with the shield,” said Dr Patel.

Another indigenous development for the oncologists was ‘aerosol collector.’ Dr Dushyant Mandlik, surgical oncologist, said that the instrument was designed in a way that it could arrest all the aerosols generated from the patient’s mouth during a surgery.

“The surgeries take a long time, and generation of aerosols was natural. Thus, the instrument would be used along with the probe to ensure that there are no aerosols – which could contain the virus – in the operation theatre,” he said.

The city-based experts also devised ways to perform surgeries where exposure could be reduced.

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