General anaesthesia is known to achieve the shortest decision-to-delivery interval for category-1 caesarean section.
We investigated whether the COVID-19 pandemic affected the decision-to delivery interval and influenced neonatal outcomes in patients who underwent category-1 caesarean section.
Records of 562 patients who underwent emergency caesarean section between 1 April 2019 and 1 July 2019 in seven UK hospitals (pre-COVID-19 group) were compared with 577 emergency caesarean sections performed during the same period during the COVID-19 pandemic (1 April 2020–1 July 2020) (post-COVID-19 group).
Primary outcome measures were: decision-to-delivery interval; number of caesarean sections achieving decision-to-delivery interval < 30 min; and a composite of adverse neonatal outcomes (Apgar 5-min score < 7, umbilical arterial pH < 7.10, neonatal intensive care unit admission and stillbirth).
The use of general anaesthesia decreased significantly between the pre- and post-COVID-19 groups (risk ratio 0.48 (95%CI 0.37–0.62); p < 0.0001). Compared with the pre-COVID-19 group, the post-COVID-19 group had an increase in median (IQR [range]) decision-to-delivery interval (26 (18–32 [4–124]) min vs. 27 (20–33 [3–102]) min; p = 0.043) and a decrease in the number of caesarean sections meeting the decision-to-delivery interval target of < 30 min (374/562 (66.5%) vs. 349/577 (60.5%); p = 0.02).