LONDON, ONT. -- A ground-breaking study has found that COVID-19 patients who undergo surgery are at a higher risk of death following surgery.

Professor Janet Martin of Western University in London, Ont. is part of the global study and says these findings are important for guiding decision making as hospitals resume elective surgeries.

"Our goal is to achieve optimal patient outcomes. For the first time, we have data from a large study to inform when the benefits from surgery outweigh the risks in patients who may also have COVID-19," said Martin.

The study done in collaboration with the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom shows that COVID-19 patients who undergo surgery have substantially worse postoperative outcomes than patients who do not have the virus.

The mortality rate for patients with the virus who underwent surgery was nearly one in four, or 23.8 per cent.

It did not matter the type of surgery, minor or major, the mortality rate was higher across the board.

The study also found that 51 per cent of patients developed pulmonary complications.

Death rates are higher in men at nearly 30 per cent while women were closer to 18 per cent.

"We would normally expect mortality for patients having minor or elective surgery to be under one per cent, but our study suggests that in SARS-CoV-2 patients these mortality rates are much higher in both minor surgery (16.3 per cent) and elective surgery (18.9 per cent)," said Martin.