Patients with chronic pelvic pain (CPP) may experience pain exacerbations requiring hospital admissions. Due to the effects of backlogged elective surgeries and outpatient gynaecology appointments resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, we hypothesised that there would be an increased number of women admitted with CPP flares. We conducted a retrospective review of all acute gynaecology admissions at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh from July to December 2018 (pre-COVID) and 2021 (post-COVID lockdown). We collected information on proportion of emergency admissions due to CPP, inpatient investigations, and subsequent management. Average total indicative hospital inpatient costs for women with CPP were calculated using NHS National Cost Collection data guidance. There was no significant difference in the number of emergency admissions due to pelvic pain before (153/507) and after (160/461) the COVID-19 pandemic. 33% and 31% had a background history of CPP, respectively. Across both timepoints, investigations in women with CPP had low diagnostic yield: <25% had abnormal imaging findings and 0% had positive vaginal swab cultures. Women with CPP received significantly more inpatient morphine, pain team reviews, and were more likely to be discharged with strong opioids. Total yearly inpatient costs were £170,104 and £179,156, in 2018 and 2021 respectively. Overall, emergency admission rates for managing CPP flares was similar before and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Inpatient resource use for women with CPP remains high, investigations have low diagnostic yield and frequent instigation of opiates on discharge may risk dependence. Improved community care of CPP is needed to reduce emergency gynaecology resource utilisation.
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- Author: Lucy H R Whitaker x