Assessment of diagnostics capacity in hospitals providing surgical care in two Latin American states

Diagnostic services are an essential component of high-quality surgical, anesthesia and obstetric (SAO) care. Efforts to scale up SAO care in Latin America have often overlooked diagnostics capacity. This study aims to analyze the capacity of diagnostic services, including radiology, pathology, and laboratory medicine, in hospitals providing SAO care in the states of Chiapas, Mexico and Amazonas, Brazil.

A stratified cross-sectional evaluation of diagnostic capacity in hospitals performing surgery in Chiapas and Amazonas was performed using the Surgical Assessment Tool (SAT). National data sources were queried for indicators of diagnostics capacity in terms of workforce, infrastructure and diagnosis utilization. Fisher’s exact tests and chi-square tests were used to compare categorical variables between the private and public sector in Chiapas while descriptive statistics are used to compare Amazonas and Chiapas.

In Chiapas, 53% (n = 17) of public and 34% (n = 20) of private hospitals providing SAO care were assessed. More private hospitals than public hospitals could always provide x-rays (35% vs 23.5%) and ultrasound (85% vs 47.1%). However neither sector could consistently perform basic laboratory testing such as complete blood counts (70.6% public, 65% private). In Amazonas, 30% (n = 18) of rural hospitals were surveyed. Most had functioning x-ray machine (77.8%) and ultrasound (55.6%). The majority of hospitals could provide complete blood count (66.7%) but only one hospital (5.6%) could always perform an infectious panel. Both Chiapas and Amazonas had dramatically fewer diagnostic practitioners per capita in each state compared to the national average capacity.

Facilities providing SAO care in low-resource states in Mexico and Brazil often lack functioning diagnostics services and workforce. Scale-up of diagnostic services is essential to improve SAO care and should occur with emphasis on equitable and adequate resource allocation.

Laparoscopic vs open colorectal surgery: Economic and clinical outcomes in the Brazilian healthcare

Laparoscopic surgery has become the preferred surgical approach of several colorectal conditions. However, the economic results of this are quite controversial. The degree of adoption of laparoscopic technology, as well as the aptitude of the surgeons, can have an influence not only in the clinical outcomes but also in the total procedure cost. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical and economic outcomes of laparoscopic colorectal surgeries, compared to open procedures in Brazil.All patients who underwent elective colorectal surgeries between January 2012 and December 2013 were eligible to the retrospective cohort. The considered follow-up period was within 30 days from the index procedure. The outcomes evaluated were the length of stay, blood transfusion, intensive care unit admission, in-hospital mortality, use of antibiotics, the development of anastomotic leakage, readmission, and the total hospital costs including re-admissions.Two hundred eighty patients, who met the eligibility criteria, were included in the analysis. Patients in the laparoscopic group had a shorter length of stay in comparison with the open group (6.02 ± 3.86 vs 9.86 ± 16.27, P < .001). There were no significant differences in other clinical outcomes between the 2 groups. The total costs were similar between the 2 groups, in the multivariate analysis (generalized linear model ratio of means 1.20, P = .074). The cost predictors were the cancer diagnosis and age.Laparoscopic colorectal surgery presents a 17% decrease in the duration of the hospital stay without increasing the total hospitalization costs. The factors associated with increased hospital costs were age and the diagnosis of cancer.

Decompressive Craniectomy in Traumatic Brain Injury: An Institutional Experience of 131 Cases in Two Years

Decompressive craniectomy (DC) effectively reduces intracranial pressure (ICP), but is not considered to be a first-line procedure. We retrospectively analyzed sociodemographic, clinical, and surgical characteristics associated with the prognosis of patients who underwent DC to treat traumatic intracranial hypertension (ICH) at the Restauração Hospital (HR) in Recife, Brazil between 2015 and 2016, and compared the clinical features with surgical timing and functional outcome at discharge. The data were collected from 131 medical records in the hospital database. A significant majority of the patients were young adults (age 18-39 years old; 75/131; 57.3%) and male (118/131; 90.1%). Road traffic accidents, particularly those involving motorcycles (57/131; 44.5%), were the main cause of the traumatic event. At initial evaluation, 63 patients (48.8%) were classified with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). Pupil examination showed no abnormalities for 91 patients (71.1%), and acute subdural hematoma was the most frequently observed lesion (83/212; 40%). Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS) score was used to categorize surgical results and 51 patients (38.9%) had an unfavorable outcome. Only the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score on admission (score of 3-8) was more likely to be associated with unfavorable outcome (p-value = 0.009), indicating that this variable may be a determinant of mortality and prognostic of poor outcome. Patients who underwent an operation sooner after injury, despite having a worse condition on admission, presented with clinical results that were similar to those of patients who underwent surgery 12 h after hospital admission. These results emphasize the importance of early DC for management of severe TBI. This study shows that DC is a common procedure used to manage TBI patients at HR.

Comprehending the lack of access to maternal and neonatal emergency care: Designing solutions based on a space-time approach

The objective of this study was to better understand how the lack of emergency child and obstetric care can be related to maternal and neonatal mortality levels.

We performed spatiotemporal geospatial analyses using data from Brazilian municipalities. An emergency service accessibility index was derived using the two-step floating catchment area (2SFCA) for 951 hospitals. Mortality data from 2000 to 2015 was used to characterize space-time trends. The data was overlapped using a spatial clusters analysis to identify regions with lack of emergency access and high mortality trends.

From 2000 to 2015 Brazil the overall neonatal mortality rate varied from 11,42 to 11,71 by 1000 live births. The maternal mortality presented a slightly decrease from 2,98 to 2,88 by 100 thousand inhabitants. For neonatal mortality the Northeast and North regions presented the highest percentage of up trending. For maternal mortality the North region exhibited the higher volume of up trending. The accessibility index obtained highlighted large portions of the rural areas of the country without any coverage of obstetric or neonatal beds.

The analyses highlighted regions with problems of mortality and access to maternal and newborn emergency services. This sequence of steps can be applied to other low and medium income countries as health situation analysis tool.

Significance statement
Low and middle income countries have greater disparities in access to emergency child and obstetric care. There is a lack of approaches capable to support analysis considering a spatiotemporal perspective for emergency care. Studies using Geographic Information System analysis for maternal and child care, are increasing in frequency. This approach can identify emergency child and obstetric care saturated or deprived regions. The sequence of steps designed here can help researchers, and policy makers to better design strategies aiming to improve emergency child and obstetric care.

Negative Pressure Wound Therapy in the Treatment of Surgical Site Infection in Cardiac Surgery

To describe the relationship between epidemiological and clinical characteristics of postoperative cardiac surgery patients undergoing negative pressure wound therapy for the treatment of surgical site infection.
An observational, cross-sectional analytical study including a convenience sample consisting of medical records of patients undergoing sternal cardiac surgery with surgical site infection diagnosed in medical records treated by negative pressure wound therapy.
Medical records of 117 patients, mainly submitted to myocardial revascularization surgery and with deep incisional surgical site infection (88; 75.2%). Negative pressure wound therapy was used on mean for 16 (±9.5) days/patient; 1.7% had complications associated with therapy and 53.8% had discomfort, especially pain (93.6%). The duration of therapy was related to the severity of SSI (p=0.010) and the number of exchanges performed (p=0.045).
Negative pressure wound therapy has few complications, but with discomfort to patients.

Predictors of Survival After Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma in South America: The InterCHANGE Study

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) incidence is high in South America, where recent data on survival are sparse. We investigated the main predictors of HNSCC survival in Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Colombia.

Sociodemographic and lifestyle information was obtained from standardized interviews, and clinicopathologic data were extracted from medical records and pathologic reports. The Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression were used for statistical analyses.

Of 1,463 patients, 378 had a larynx cancer (LC), 78 hypopharynx cancer (HC), 599 oral cavity cancer (OC), and 408 oropharynx cancer (OPC). Most patients (55.5%) were diagnosed with stage IV disease, ranging from 47.6% for LC to 70.8% for OPC. Three-year survival rates were 56.0% for LC, 54.7% for OC, 48.0% for OPC, and 37.8% for HC. In multivariable models, patients with stage IV disease had approximately 7.6 (LC/HC), 11.7 (OC), and 3.5 (OPC) times higher mortality than patients with stage I disease. Current and former drinkers with LC or HC had approximately 2 times higher mortality than never-drinkers. In addition, older age at diagnosis was independently associated with worse survival for all sites. In a subset analysis of 198 patients with OPC with available human papillomavirus (HPV) type 16 data, those with HPV-unrelated OPC had a significantly worse 3-year survival compared with those with HPV-related OPC (44.6% v 75.6%, respectively), corresponding to a 3.4 times higher mortality.

Late stage at diagnosis was the strongest predictor of lower HNSCC survival. Early cancer detection and reduction of harmful alcohol use are fundamental to decrease the high burden of HNSCC in South America.

Outcomes in the management of high-risk gestational trophoblastic neoplasia in trophoblastic disease centers in South America

Background: South America has a higher incidence of gestational trophoblastic disease than North America or Europe, but whether this impacts chemotherapy outcomes is unclear. The purpose of this study was to evaluate outcomes among women with high-risk gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN) treated at trophoblastic disease centers in developing South American countries.

Methods: This retrospective cohort study included patients with high-risk GTN treated in three trophoblastic disease centers in South America (Botucatu and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Buenos Aires, Argentina) from January 1990 to December 2014. Data evaluated included demographics, clinical presentation, FIGO stage, WHO prognostic risk score, and treatment-related information. The primary treatment outcome was complete sustained remission by 18 months following completion of therapy or death.

Results: Among 1264 patients with GTN, 191 (15.1%) patients had high-risk GTN and 147 were eligible for the study. Complete sustained remission was ultimately achieved in 87.1% of cases overall, including 68.4% of ultra high-risk GTN (score ≥12). Early death (within 4 weeks of initiating therapy) was significantly associated with ultra high-risk GTN, occurring in 13.8% of these patients (p=0.003). By Cox’s proportional hazards regression, factors most strongly related to death were non-molar antecedent pregnancy (RR 4.35, 95% CI 1.71 to 11.05), presence of liver, brain, or kidney metastases (RR 4.99, 95% CI 1.96 to 12.71), FIGO stage (RR 3.14, 95% CI 1.52 to 6.53), and an ultra-high-risk prognostic risk score (RR 7.86, 95% CI 2.99 to 20.71). Median follow-up after completion of chemotherapy was 4 years. Among patients followed to that timepoint, the probability of survival was 90% for patients with high-risk GTN (score 7-11) and 60% for patients with ultra-high-risk GTN (score ≥12).

Conclusion: Trophoblastic disease centers in developing South American countries have achieved high remission rates in high-risk GTN, but early deaths remain an important problem, particularly in ultra-high-risk GTN.

Cross-sectional study of surgical quality with a novel evidence-based tool for low-resource settings

Background Adverse events from surgical care are a major cause of death and disability, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries. Metrics for quality of surgical care developed in high-income settings are resource-intensive and inappropriate in most lower resource settings. The purpose of this study was to apply and assess the feasibility of a new tool to measure surgical quality in resource-constrained settings.

Methods This is a cross-sectional study of surgical quality using a novel evidence-based tool for quality measurement in low-resource settings. The tool was adapted for use at a tertiary hospital in Amazonas, Brazil resulting in 14 metrics of quality of care. Nine metrics were collected prospectively during a 4-week period, while five were collected retrospectively from the hospital administrative data and operating room logbooks.

Results 183 surgeries were observed, 125 patient questionnaires were administered and patient charts for 1 year were reviewed. All metrics were successfully collected. The study site met the proposed targets for timely process (7 hours from admission to surgery) and effective outcome (3% readmission rate). Other indicators results were equitable structure (1.1 median patient income to catchment population) and equitable outcome (2.5% at risk of catastrophic expenditure), safe outcome (2.6% perioperative mortality rate) and effective structure (fully qualified surgeon present 98% of cases).

Conclusion It is feasible to apply a novel surgical quality measurement tool in resource-limited settings. Prospective collection of all metrics integrated within existing hospital structures is recommended. Further applications of the tool will allow the metrics and targets to be refined and weighted to better guide surgical quality improvement measures.

The Trauma and Acute Care Surgeon in the COVID-19 Pandemic Era

The World Health Organization recognized in March 2020 the existence of a pandemic for the new coronavirus that appeared in China, in late 2019, and whose disease was named COVID-19. In this context, the SBAIT (Brazilian Society of Integrated Care for Traumatized Patients) conducted a survey with 219 trauma and emergency surgeons regarding the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the role of the surgeon in this pandemic by means of an electronic survey. It was observed that surgeons have been acting under inadequate conditions, with a lack of basic supplies as well as more specific equipment such as N95 masks and facial shields for the care of potential victims who may be contaminated. The latter increases the risk of contamination of professionals, resulting in potential losses in the working teams. Immediate measures must be taken to guarantee access to safety equipment throughout the country, since all trauma victims and/or patients with emergency surgical conditions must be treated as potential carriers of COVID-19.

Troponin I as a Mortality Marker After Lung Resection Surgery – A Prospective Cohort Study

Cardiovascular complications associated with thoracic surgery increase morbidity, mortality, and treatment costs. Elevated cardiac troponin level represents a predictor of complications after non-cardiac surgeries, but its role after thoracic surgeries remains undetermined. The objective of this study was to analyze the relationship between troponin I elevation and morbidity and mortality after one year in patients undergoing lung resection surgery.
This prospective cohort study evaluated 151 consecutive patients subjected to elective lung resection procedures using conventional and video-assisted thoracoscopic techniques at a University Hospital in Brazil, from July 2012 to November 2015. Preoperative risk stratification was performed using the scores obtained by the American College of Physicians (ACP) and the Society of Cardiology of the state of São Paulo (EMAPO) scoring systems. Troponin I levels were measured in the immediate postoperative period (POi) and on the first and second postoperative days.
Most patients had a low risk for complications according to the ACP (96.7%) and EMAPO (82.8%) scores. Approximately 49% of the patients exhibited increased troponin I (≥0.16 ng/ml), at least once, and 22 (14.6%) died in one year. Multivariate analysis showed that the elevation of troponin I, on the first postoperative day, correlated with a 12-fold increase in mortality risk within one year (HR 12.02, 95% CI: 1.82-79.5; p = 0.01).
In patients undergoing lung resection surgery, with a low risk of complications according to the preoperative evaluation scores, an increase in troponin I levels above 0.16 ng/ml in the first postoperative period correlated with an increase in mortality within one year.