Sex Disparities in the Global Burden of Surgical Disease

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery and 2015 Global Burden of Disease study provide evidence for the increasing relative burden of noncommunicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including surgical conditions such as injuries, gastrointestinal diseases, and cancer [1, 2]. While many of these conditions affect both men and women, women bear a large burden of sex-specific surgical disease.

Perioperative Anticoagulation Management in Spine Surgery: Initial Findings From the AO Spine Anticoagulation Global Survey

Study Design: Cross-sectional, international survey.
Objectives: This study addressed the global perspectives concerning perioperative use of pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis
during spine surgery along with its risks and benefits.
Methods: A questionnaire was designed and implemented by expert members in the AO Spine community. The survey was
distributed to AO Spine’s spine surgeon members (N ¼ 3805). Data included surgeon demographic information, type and region
of practice, anticoagulation principles, different patient scenarios, and comorbidities.
Results: A total of 316 (8.3% response rate) spine surgeons completed the survey, representing 64 different countries. Completed surveys were primarily from Europe (31.7%), South/Latin America (19.9%), and Asia (18.4%). Surgeons tended to be 35 to
44 years old (42.1%), fellowship-trained (74.7%), and orthopedic surgeons (65.5%) from academic institutions (39.6%). Most
surgeons (70.3%) used routine anticoagulation risk stratification, irrespective of geographic location. However, significant differences were seen between continents with anticoagulation initiation and cessation methodology. Specifically, the length of a
procedure (P ¼ .036) and patient body mass index (P ¼ .008) were perceived differently when deciding to begin anticoagulation,
while the importance of medical clearance (P < .001) and reference to literature (P ¼ .035) differed during cessation. For specific
techniques, most providers noted use of mobilization, low-molecular-weight heparin, and mechanical prophylaxis beginning on
postoperative 0 to 1 days. Conversely, bridging regimens were bimodal in distribution, with providers electing anticoagulant
initiation on postoperative 0 to 1 days or days 5-6
Conclusion: This survey highlights the heterogeneity of spine care and accentuates geographical variations. Furthermore, it
identifies the difficulty in providing consistent perioperative anticoagulation recommendations to patients, as there remains no
widely accepted, definitive literature of evidence or guidelines.

An Analysis of Cross-Continental Scholarship Requirements During Neurosurgical Training and National Research Productivity

Objective: Engagement in research and scholarship is considered a hallmark of neurosurgical training. However, the participation of neurosurgical trainees in this experience has only recently been analyzed and described in the United States, with little, if any, data available regarding the research environment in neurosurgical training programs across the globe. Here, the authors set out to identify requirements for research involvement and to quantify publication rates in leading neurosurgical journals throughout various nations across the globe.

Methods: The first aim was to identify the research requirements set by relevant program-accrediting and/or board-certifying agencies via query of the literature and published guidelines. For the second part of the study, the authors attempted to determine each country’s neurosurgical research productivity by quantifying publications in the various large international neurosurgical journals-World Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery, and Neurosurgery-via a structured search of PubMed.

Results: Data on neurosurgical training requirements addressing research were available for 54 (28.1%) of 192 countries. Specific research requirements were identified for 39 countries, partial requirements for 8, and no requirements for 7. Surprisingly, the authors observed a trend of increased average research productivity with the absence of designated research requirements, although this finding is not unprecedented in the literature.

Conclusions: A variety of countries of various sizes and neurosurgical workforce densities across the globe have instituted research requirements during training and/or prior to board certification in neurosurgery. These requirements range in intensity from 1 publication or presentation to the completion of a thesis or dissertation and occur at various time points throughout training. While these requirements do not correlate directly to national research productivity, they may provide a foundation for developing countries to establish a culture of excellence in research.

The Preferred Management of a Single-Digit Distal Phalanx Amputation

Background: Replantation of a single digit at the distal phalanx level is not routinely performed since it is technically challenging with questionable cost-effectiveness. The purpose of this study was to analyze international microsurgeons’ clinical decisions when faced with this common scenario.

Methods: A survey of a right-middle finger distal phalanx transverse complete amputation case was conducted via online and paper questionnaires. Microsurgeons around the world were invited to provide their treatment recommendations. In total, 383 microsurgeons replied, and their responses were stratified and analyzed by geographical areas, specialties, microsurgery fellowship training, and clinical experiences.

Results: Among 383 microsurgeons, 170 (44.3%) chose replantation as their preferred management option, 137 (35.8%) chose revision amputation, 62 (16.2%) chose local flap coverage, 8 (2.1%) chose composite graft, and 6 (1.6%) favored other choices as their reconstruction method for the case study. Microsurgeons from the Asia-Pacific, Middle East/South Asia, and Central/South America regions tend to perform replantation (70.7, 68.8, and 67.4%, respectively) whereas surgeons from North America and Europe showed a lower preference toward replantation (20.5 and 26.8%, respectively p < 0.001). Having completed a microsurgery fellowship increased the attempt rate of replantation by 15.3% (p = 0.004). Clinical experience and the surgeons' specialties did not show statistical significance in clinical decision making.

Conclusion: From the present study, the geographic preferences and microsurgery fellowship experience influence the method of reconstruction for distal phalanx amputation. Multiple factors are taken into consideration in selecting the most suitable reconstructive method for each case scenario. In addition to the technical challenges of the proposed surgery, the cost of the procedure and the type of facility needed are important variables in the decision making process.

Delays in hospital admissions in patients with fractures across 18 low-income and middle-income countries (INORMUS): a prospective observational study

Background: The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery established the Three Delays framework, categorising delays in accessing timely surgical care into delays in seeking care (First Delay), reaching care (Second Delay), and receiving care (Third Delay). Globally, knowledge gaps regarding delays for fracture care, and the lack of large prospective studies informed the rationale for our international observational study. We investigated delays in hospital admission as a surrogate for accessing timely fracture care and explored factors associated with delayed hospital admission.

Methods: In this prospective observational substudy of the ongoing International Orthopaedic Multicenter Study in Fracture Care (INORMUS), we enrolled patients with fracture across 49 hospitals in 18 low-income and middle-income countries, categorised into the regions of China, Africa, India, south and east Asia, and Latin America. Eligible patients were aged 18 years or older and had been admitted to a hospital within 3 months of sustaining an orthopaedic trauma. We collected demographic injury data and time to hospital admission. Our primary outcome was the number of patients with open and closed fractures who were delayed in their admission to a treating hospital. Delays for patients with open fractures were defined as being more than 2 h from the time of injury (in accordance with the Lancet Commission on Global Surgery) and for those with closed fractures as being a delay of more than 24 h. Secondary outcomes were reasons for delay for all patients with either open or closed fractures who were delayed for more than 24 h. We did logistic regression analyses to identify risk factors of delays of more than 2 h in patients with open fractures and delays of more than 24 h in patients with closed fractures. Logistic regressions were adjusted for region, age, employment, urban living, health insurance, interfacility referral, method of transportation, number of fractures, mechanism of injury, and fracture location. We further calculated adjusted relative risk (RR) from adjusted odds ratios, adjusted for the same variables. This study was registered with, NCT02150980, and is ongoing.

Findings: Between April 3, 2014, and May 10, 2019, we enrolled 31 255 patients with fractures, with a median age of 45 years (IQR 31-62), of whom 19 937 (63·8%) were men, and 14 524 (46·5%) had lower limb fractures, making them the most common fractures. Of 5256 patients with open fractures, 3778 (71·9%) were not admitted to hospital within 2 h. Of 25 999 patients with closed fractures, 7141 (27·5%) were delayed by more than 24 h. Of all regions, Latin America had the greatest proportions of patients with delays (173 [88·7%] of 195 patients with open fractures; 426 [44·7%] of 952 with closed fractures). Among patients delayed by more than 24 h, the most common reason for delays were interfacility referrals (3755 [47·7%] of 7875) and Third Delays (cumulatively interfacility referral and delay in emergency department: 3974 [50·5%]), while Second Delays (delays in reaching care) were the least common (423 [5·4%]). Compared with other methods of transportation (eg, walking, rickshaw), ambulances led to delay in transporting patients with open fractures to a treating hospital (adjusted RR 0·66, 99% CI 0·46-0·93). Compared with patients with closed lower limb fractures, patients with closed spine (adjusted RR 2·47, 99% CI 2·17-2·81) and pelvic (1·35, 1·10-1·66) fractures were most likely to have delays of more than 24 h before admission to hospital.

Interpretation: In low-income and middle-income countries, timely hospital admission remains largely inaccessible, especially among patients with open fractures. Reducing hospital-based delays in receiving care, and, in particular, improving interfacility referral systems are the most substantial tools for reducing delays in admissions to hospital.

Ethical Considerations in Global Surgery: A Scoping Review

Introduction: An unmet burden of surgical disease exists worldwide and is disproportionately shouldered by low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). As the field of global surgery grows to meet this need, ethical considerations need to be addressed. Currently, there are no formal guidelines to help inform relevant stakeholders of the ethical challenges and considerations facing global surgical collaborations. The aim of this scoping review is to synthesise the existing literature on ethics in global surgery and identify gaps in the current knowledge.

Methods: A scoping review of relevant databases to identify the literature pertaining to ethics in global surgery was performed. Eligible articles addressed at least one ethical consideration in global surgery. A grounded theory approach to content analysis was used to identify themes in the included literature and guide the identification of gaps in existing literature.

Results: Four major ethical domains were identified in the literature: clinical care and delivery; education and exchange of trainees; research, monitoring and evaluation; and engagement in collaborations and partnerships. The majority of published literature related to issues of clinical care and delivery of the individual patient. Most of the published literature was published exclusively by authors in high-income countries (HICs) (80%), and the majority of articles were in the form of editorials or commentaries (69.1%). Only 12.7% of articles published were original research studies.

Conclusion: The literature on ethics in global surgery remains sparse, with most publications coming from HICs, and focusing on clinical care and short-term surgical missions. Given that LMICs are frequently the recipients of global surgical initiatives, the relative absence of literature from their perspective needs to be addressed. Furthermore, there is a need for more literature focusing on the ethics surrounding sustainable collaborations and partnerships.

Tracheoesophageal fistula in the developing world: are we ready for thoracoscopic repair?

Purpose: Tracheoesophageal fistula (TEF) is a bellwether for a country’s ability to care for sick newborns. We aim to review the existing literature from low- and middle-income countries in regard to management of those newborns and the possible approaches to improve their outcomes.

Methods: A review of the existing English literature was conducted with the aim of assessing challenges faced by providers in LMIC in terms of diagnostic, preoperative, operative and post-operative care for TEF patients. We also review the limited literature for performing thoracoscopic repair in the developing world context and suggest methods for introduction of advanced thoracoscopic procedures including techniques for providing anesthesia to these challenging babies.

Results: While outcomes related to technique from LMIC are comparable to the developed world, rates of secondary complications like sepsis and pneumonia are higher. In many areas, repairs are conducted in a staged fashion with minimal utilization of thoracoscopic approach. The paucity of resources creates strain on intraoperative and post-operative management.

Conclusion: Clearly, not all developing world contexts are ready to attempt thoracoscopic repair but we outline suggestions for assessing the existing capabilities and a stepwise gradual implementation of advanced thoracoscopy when appropriate.

Major abdominal wall defects in the low- and middle-income setting: current status and priorities

Major congenital abdominal wall defects (gastroschisis and omphalocele) may account for up to 21% of emergency neonatal interventions in low- and middle-income countries. In many low- and middle-income countries, the reported mortality of these malformations is 30-100%, while in high-income countries, mortality in infants with major abdominal wall reaches less than 5%. This review highlights the challenges faced in the management of newborns with major congenital abdominal wall defects in the resource-limited setting. Current high-income country best practice is assessed and opportunities for appropriate priority setting and collaborations to improve outcomes are discussed.

Use of Social Media to Teach Global Reconstructive Surgery: Initiation of a Secret Facebook Group

The ReSurge Global Training Program (RGTP) is a model for building reconstructive surgery capacity in low- and middle-income countries.1 The aim of this study is to assess attitudes toward social media, to develop an initial RGTP Facebook Education Group, and to assess the early results of the group’s implementation.

A survey of the RGTP community assessed group demographic, interests, concerns, and familiarity with Facebook from July to August of 2018. A “secret” Facebook group was launched on October 30, 2018. Narrated lectures were posted weekly to the group. Educational cases were shared on the group’s discussion page. Facebook “Group Insights” and individual post review were used to obtain group statistics.

Senior faculty were less likely to have an existing Facebook account (58% vs 93%, P < 0.05). Trainees were more confident using Facebook (97% vs 54%, P < 0.05) and favored viewing the training curriculum through Facebook (93.0%, P < 0.05). At 6 months, the group enrolled 103 members from 14 countries. Twenty-two lectures were posted, obtaining an average of 59.4 views (range, 36–78). Fourteen cases were presented for group discussion with an average of 61.1 views (range, 43–87).

The RGTP Facebook group has continued to expand in its early months. This group allows our community to view RGTP’s training curriculum, while providing global access to expert opinion and collaboration. The secret Facebook group can be used as an effective and easy-to-use platform for educational outreach in global reconstructive surgery.