Clinical profile, outcomes and predictors of mortality in neonates operated for gastrointestinal anomalies in a tertiary neonatal care unit- An observational study

Background: Gastrointestinal (GI) malformations have varied short-term and long-term outcomes reported across various neonatal units in India.
Methods: This descriptive study was done to study the clinical profile, outcomes and predictors of mortality in neonates operated for congenital GI malformations in a tertiary neonatal care unit in South India between years 2011 and 2020. Details were collected by retrospective review of the case sheets.
Results: Total of 68 neonates were included with esophageal atresia (EA) in 10, infantile hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (IHPS) in 9, duodenal atresia (DA) in 10, ileal atresia in 8, jejunal atresia in 5, anorectal malformations (ARM) in 11, meconium ileus/peritonitis in 9, malrotation in 2, and Hirschsprung’s disease (HD) in 4. Antenatal diagnosis was highest in DA (80%). Associated anomalies were maximum in EA (50%), the most common being vertebral, anal atresia, cardiac defects, tracheoesophageal fistula, renal and radial abnormalities, and limb abnormalities association (VACTERL). Overall mortality was 15%. IHPS, DA, Malrotation, HD and ARM had 100 % survival while ileal atresia had the least survival (38%). Gestational age <32 weeks (odds ratio [OR] 12.77 [1.96, 82.89]) and outborn babies (OR 5.55 [1.01, 30.33]) were significant predictors of mortality in babies operated for small intestinal anomalies. None of the surviving infants were moderately or severely underweight at follow-up.
Conclusion: Overall survival of surgically correctable GI anomalies is good. Among the predictors for mortality, modifiable factors such as in-utero referral of antenatally diagnosed congenital anomalies need attention. One-fifth had associated anomalies highlighting the need to actively look for the same. Although these neonates are vulnerable for growth failure, they had optimal growth on follow-up possibly due to standardized total parenteral nutritional policy during neonatal intensive care unit stay.

Comparative evaluation of robot-assisted and conventional urology surgeries in India

There is dearth of evidence on patients’ perspective, their knowledge and understanding about robot-assisted surgeries, especially in Low- and Middle-Income countries such as India. The aim of this prospective study was to analyze inpatients’ and surgeon’s perspectives towards robot-assisted and conventional urological surgeries. A total of 136 patients (94 robot-assisted surgery cases and 42 conventional surgery cases) were enrolled in the study. A performa (with details such as sociodemographic details of patient, patient’s view point on surgery opted and doctor’s perspective on advising robot-assisted or conventional surgery) was used for data collection. Of 136 patients, 135 (99.3%) responded that their reason for opting the surgery (either robot-assisted or open laparoscopy) depended on the advice provided by the surgeon. 78 (83.3%) patients mentioned they opted for robot-assisted surgeries because of aesthetics (cosmetically better) in comparison to 07 (16.7%) patients who opted for conventional surgeries. Only 1.1% of surgeons reported robot-assisted surgeries to be technically easy. A few surgeons (1.1%) who operated with robot-assisted surgeries mentioned it to be time-consuming than 71.4% (30) surgeons in open/lap group. All the surgeons who treated patients with robot-assisted surgeries mentioned to have no of complications in comparison to 35.75% surgeons in open/lap group. The reason for choosing robot-assisted surgeries among both patients and surgeons were patient’s compatibility, cosmetically better, less-time consuming and less hospital stay. In addition, the surgeons also believed the robot-assisted surgeries to have fewer complications for their patients and therefore, recommended it.

Safe and Standard Thyroid Cancer Surgery, or Lack Thereof: Patterns and Correlates of Patient Referral to Tertiary Care Centre for Revision Thyroid Surgery in a LMIC

Background A surgeon’s characteristics such as volume and practice setup are essential elements in outcome of thyroid cancer. However, little information is available from the developing world regarding qualities of primary surgeon, such as level of knowledge, skill, and proper documentation while referring to higher center.

Methods Records of 164 patients of differentiated thyroid cancer (DTC) from January 1990 to December 2018 undergoing revision thyroid surgery following primary surgery elsewhere were retrospectively analyzed.

Results Out of 164 patients with postoperative diagnosis of DTC, referral patterns were as follows: low volume (LV) to high volume (HV) (n = 120, 73.2%), followed by HV to HV (n = 44, 26.8%). The primary surgery assessed by the extent of residual disease was in agreement with the documentation in only 55%. The type of thyroidectomy performed was not mentioned in 9.8%. The status of the parathyroid glands was mentioned only in 15.8% and recurrent laryngeal nerve in 12.2%. Less than recommended surgery was performed in 52.5% patients. Despite less than recommended surgery, 44.5% patients were directly referred for radioactive iodine ablation (RAIA). Thirty two percent patients were referred for RAIA after hemithyroidectomy. Central or lateral compartment lymphadenectomy, even after indication, was less likely at LV centers (risk ratio [RR], 0.71; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.64–0.77). Similarly, for DTC patients, the relationship between LV center surgery and subsequent referral for RAIA was RR, 0.71 (95% CI, 0.48–1.02).

Conclusions Most patients referred from LV surgeons are less likely to have proper thyroidectomy, have inadequate documentation of the primary surgery, and are referred for RAIA after less than total thyroidectomy. Our study highlights the lacunae in the approach to and understanding of thyroid cancer surgery by secondary care physicians in our country. We believe that there is an urgent necessity of educational reform and training to rectify this problem.

Piloting targeted glaucoma screening: experiences of eye care services in Ganjam district, Odisha state, India

The number of patients with visual impairment and blindness from glaucoma is rapidly increasing with wide-ranging impacts for individuals and societies. However, the disease often goes undiagnosed for a long time, especially in low- and middle-income countries where healthcare services are limited. This paper presents the results of a pilot programme, which integrated targeted glaucoma screenings of people aged ≥40 y in community-based eye care services in the Ganjam district of Odisha state, India.

Using routine programme data, descriptive statistics were produced for the characteristics of patients participating in the screening programme and the rate and uptake of glaucoma referrals. Bivariate analysis was used to examine associations between patient characteristics, clinical risk factors and glaucoma diagnosis.

Out of 23 356 individuals aged ≥40 y screened for glaucoma over a period of 18 mo, 2219 (9.5%) were referred and 2031 presented for further examination. Among them, almost half (n=968, 48%) were diagnosed with glaucoma, representing a screening to diagnosis conversion rate of 4.14% (95% CI 3.9 to 4.4%). A positive diagnosis of glaucoma among suspects was associated with female sex, age >60 y, visual impairment, vertical cap-to-disc ratio ≥0.6:1, intraocular pressure ≥30 mmHg and shallow anterior chamber (p<0.001).

The importance of targeted screening for glaucoma using simple referral criteria to identify patients at high risk of vision loss who can benefit from treatment is critical to slow the progression of the disease and the prevention of blindness. Further studies assessing costs of the targeted screening, the role of technology in improving programme effectiveness and efficiency and the longer term compliance with treatment are needed to support glaucoma policy frameworks, guidelines and clinical practice.

Culture Negative Sepsis after Pediatric Cardiac Surgery: Incidence and Outcomes

Background: A significant proportion of children after cardiac surgery with clinical features of blood stream sepsis do not have a positive blood culture and are managed as presumed ‘culture negative sepsis (CNS)’. There is little information on outcomes of CNS early after pediatric cardiac surgery. We sought to describe the incidence, outcomes and antibiotic utilization pattern of culture negative sepsis in children undergoing cardiac surgery.

Methods : 437 consecutive children who underwent cardiac surgery were studied. CNS was empirically defined as those in whom antibiotics were upgraded based on clinical and/or laboratory suspicion of blood stream sepsis with eventual negative blood culture. Outcomes were compared between three groups: normal controls, CNS and Culture Positive Sepsis (CPS).

Results: Incidence of CNS was 16% (71/437). The mortality was highest in CPS group (10.7%, 3/29); intermediate for CNS (2.9%, 2/71) and least for the normal group (1.2%, 4/337). Similarly, duration of ventilation and intensive care unit (ICU) length of stay (in hours) was highest for CPS (116 [45-271]; 288 [156-444]), intermediate for CNS (63 [23-112]; 192 [120-288]) and least for the normal group (18 [6-28]; 72 [48-120]). Third-tier antibiotics were initiated for 27 (40%) with CNS and 23 (92%) with CPS. Although the mean antibiotic duration for CNS (6.3±3.0 days) was less than CPS (9.09±5.12); p=0.022, 27.3% of CNS received antibiotics for more than one week.

Conclusion: The high incidence of CNS points towards the need for accurate biomarkers of bacterial sepsis after cardiac surgery. The relatively better outcomes of CNS merits consideration to rapidly de-escalate antibiotics for presumed sepsis after cardiac surgery.

Building a Foundation for the Care of Children with Cancer in Rural North India

One of India’s biggest challenges is to improve its global standing by increasing healthcare access and outcomes for children with cancer, with inferior overall survivorship compared with its Western counterparts. In conjunction with the government’s efforts, private enterprise is crucial in delivering optimal cancer care consistently to its vast and diverse pediatric population, despite existing limitations. This article describes the successful implementation of a value-based, collaborative clinical and research framework by a philanthropic foundation in a rural Northern Indian city to establish and run a local childhood cancer service. It is proof of concept that substantial change could be brought about at grass roots level through resourceful partnerships and reduce prevailing imbalance in pediatric oncology service provision.

Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on Patterns of Care and Outcome of Head and Neck Cancer: Real-World Experience From a Tertiary Care Cancer Center in India

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented health, social, and economic unrest globally, particularly affecting resource-limited low-middle–income countries. The resultant curfew had made the access to and delivery of cancer care services an arduous task. We have reported the patterns of care and 1-year outcome of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) treatment before and during COVID-19 lockdown at our institution.

Patients who underwent radiation therapy (RT) for nonmetastatic HNSCC between March 1, 2020, and July 31, 2020, were included in the COVID-RT group, and those who were treated between October 1, 2019, and February 29, 2020, were included in the preCOVID-RT group.

A total of 25 patients were in the COVID-RT group, and 51 patients were in the preCOVID-RT group. An increase in the incidence of locally advanced cancers across all subsites was observed in the COVID-RT group. There was a steep increase in the median overall RT treatment duration (52 v 44) and median break days during RT (10 v 2) in the COVID-RT group. The median follow-up period of all patients was 18 months. The progression-free survival at 1 year in the COVID-RT group and preCOVID-RT group was 84% and 90%, respectively (P = .08), and overall survival at 1 year was 86% and 96%, respectively (P = .06).

Our study elucidates the adverse impact of the COVID-19 curfew on cancer care and has demonstrated safe delivery of RT for HNSCC without major acute adverse effects. Despite a significant increase in treatment breaks, early outcome data also suggest that 1-year progression-free survival and overall survival are comparable with that of the pre–COVID-19 times; however, longer follow-up is warranted.

‘Coming home does not mean that the injury has gone’—exploring the lived experience of socioeconomic and quality of life outcomes in post-discharge trauma patients in urban India

Trauma results in long-term socioeconomic outcomes that affect quality of life (QOL) after discharge. However, there is limited research on the lived experience of these outcomes and QOL from low – and middle-income countries. The aim of this study was to explore the different socioeconomic and QOL outcomes that trauma patients have experienced during their recovery. We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews of 21 adult trauma patients between three to eight months after discharge from two tertiary-care public hospitals in Mumbai, India. We performed thematic analysis to identify emerging themes within the range of different experiences of the participants across gender, age, and mechanism of injury. Three themes emerged in the analysis. Recovery is incomplete—even up to eight months post discharge, participants had needs unmet by the healthcare system. Recovery is expensive—participants struggled with a range of direct and indirect costs and had to adopt coping strategies. Recovery is intersocial—post-discharge socioeconomic and QOL outcomes of the participants were shaped by the nature of social support available and their sociodemographic characteristics. Provisioning affordable and accessible rehabilitation services, and linkages with support groups may improve these outcomes. Future research should look at the effect of age and gender on these outcomes.

Assessment of the quality of sexual and reproductive health services delivered to adolescents at Ujala clinics: A qualitative study in Rajasthan, India

The Adolescent Friendly Health Clinic (AFHCs), a key component of the Government of India’s National Adolescent Health Programme a.k.a. Rashtriya Kishor Swasthya Karyakram (RKSK), aims to increase the accessibility and utilization of sexual-reproductive health services by adolescents and youth. However, low quality of care provided at AFHCs by counsellors calls for attention. We, thus, explore both the clients’ and providers’ perspectives using the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global standards for quality health-care services for adolescents to assess the quality of the sexual reproductive health service delivery at AFHCs in Rajasthan, India. We conducted a qualitative study, comprising observation of the service delivery using mystery clients (MCs) (n = 12) and in-depth interviews with the counsellors (n = 4) in four AFHCs. Interviews were transcribed in local language and were translated in English. The transcripts were coded thematically. Our study, using five of the eight WHO global standards for quality health-care services for adolescents highlighted several gaps in the quality-of-service delivery at AFHCs. We unearth various intricacies related to the quality of the services provided at the AFHCs by referring to the relevant input, process, and the output criteria of WHO global standards I, III, IV, V and VI. Our study calls for efforts to improve- (i) the counsellors’ competencies to increase adolescents’ health literacy on sensitive topics, (ii) the facilities at the clinic to ensure privacy, comfort and confidentiality of the adolescents seeking services, (iii) the referrals to improve appropriate package of services, and (iv) an overall environment to ensure an equity and non-discrimination for all the adolescents. Our findings unearth the barriers that both the service providers and the adolescents face at the AFHCs and underscore the need for regular monitoring and evaluation of the AFHCs to strengthen the facility-based intervention of the RKSK programme.

Development of a remote learning educational model for international Emergency Medicine trainees in the era of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has pressured post-graduate medical education programs to shift from traditional in-person teaching to remote teaching and learning. Remote learning in medical education has been described in the literature mostly in the context of local in-country teaching. International remote medical education poses unique challenges for educators, especially in low-middle income countries (LMICs) who need continued Emergency Medicine (EM) specialty development. Our objective is to describe the development and implementation of our remote educational curriculum for EM trainees in West Bengal, India, and to assess trainee satisfaction with our remote learning curriculum.

Our curriculum was developed by adapting remote learning techniques used in Western post-graduate medical education, conducting literature searches on remote learning modalities, and through collaboration with local faculty in India. We assessed resident satisfaction in our curriculum with feedback surveys and group discussions.

The remote educational curriculum had overall high trainee satisfaction ratings for weekly livestream video lectures and throughout our monthly educational modules (median ratings 9-10 out of a 10-point Likert scale). Qualitative feedback regarding specific lecture topics and educational modules were also received.

International remote education in LMICs poses a unique set of challenges to medical educators. Residents in our study reported high satisfaction with the curriculum, but there is a lack of clarity regarding how a remote curriculum may impact academic and clinical performance. Future studies are needed to further evaluate the efficacy and academic and clinical implications of remote medical education in LMICs.