The general surgery devices market is closely tied to elective procedure volumes. As such, this market was significantly impacted between March and May 2020 when the initial wave of the Covid-19 pandemic had induced mass cancellations of elective procedures.
According to a large retrospective cohort study conducted by Mattingly and colleagues, which was recently published in JAMA Network Open, there was an approximately 54% decline in the general surgery procedure volumes in the US during the initial period of cancellations compared with the same time period in 2019. The extent of the impact varied by the types of general surgery procedures. For example, abdominal hernia repair procedures declined by approximately 77%, while hepato-pancreato-biliary surgeries declined by approximately 48%. The decline in procedure volumes had direct consequences to the sales volumes of the associated devices, as evidenced by the purchasing trends analyzed by GlobalData from a US nationwide hospital purchasing database.
Like many other procedure types, general surgery procedure volumes had returned to pre-pandemic volumes by H2 2020, as Covid-19 cases had generally fallen during the summer months and elective procedures had resumed. Interestingly, in contrast to the initial pandemic wave, subsequent surges of cases in both 2020 and all throughout 2021 had a relatively limited impact on overall general surgery procedure volumes. Two prominent reasons for this include the implementation of elective procedure policies at the hospital or hospital system levels rather than at the regionwide level and the improved management of risks associated with future Covid-19 surges. The latter was implemented primarily by still providing ambulatory surgical procedures that would not reduce hospital bed capacity and acquiring key hospital supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 tests.
Sales of general surgery devices throughout 2021 also remained mostly unaffected by surges in case counts or even death rates. For example, frequently purchased devices in the US such as laparoscopic trocars and surgical meshes consistently approached or even exceeded the sales levels seen during the same time periods in 2019, even during surges in Covid-19 cases and deaths such as in January and September 2021.
While the general surgery device market has been performing at pre-pandemic levels in 2021, it still faces continued threats from emerging coronavirus variants like Omicron to induce elective procedure cancellations, as has already been seen across many hospital systems worldwide. However, based on recent trends, GlobalData forecasts that the general surgery devices market will remain mostly resilient as hospitalization rates from the Omicron variant remain low thus far, and improved hospital operations and medical supplies will likely sustain elective procedures volumes.