Palliative surgery in gastrointestinal malignancy: experience from a regional cancer centre

Background: With so much burden of advanced incurable disease, the role of palliative surgery is paramount for gastrointestinal malignancies improving quality of life. Aim of the study was to study the indications, risks and outcome of palliative surgeries in gastrointestinal malignancies, the burden of disease requiring palliative surgery, and to describe strategies to improve end of life care.

Methods: All the patients diagnosed with gastrointestinal malignancy and who underwent palliative surgery between January 2017 and December 2017 were analysed.

Results: A total of 186 cases underwent palliative surgery. The most common age group affected was between 50-60 years and the mean age was 54.55 years. Stomach was the most common primary consisting of 58.60% followed by colorectal (23.66%), small intestine (9.68%), hepato-pacreatico-billiary (4.30%), and oesophageal (3.76%) primary. Major complications were seen in 4.84% of cases. Average symptomatic relief was observed for 5.5 months in cases of stomach and 7 months in case of colorectal malignancies. 35.48% cases were alive at the end of one year.

Conclusions: Present study concludes that palliative surgery improves quality of life of the patient, provides them with time to accept death and live rest of the life in a dignified manner.

Evaluation of Portable Tablet-Based Audiometry in a South Indian Population

While a comprehensive booth audiogram is the gold standard for diagnosis of hearing loss, access to this may not be available in remote and low resource settings. The aims of this study were to validate a tablet-based audiometer in a tertiary medical center in India and explore its capacity in improving access to hearing healthcare. Subjects presenting to Ear–Nose–Throat clinics for conventional booth audiometry testing were recruited for subsequent tablet-based audiometric testing. Testing with the tablet was conducted in a non-sound-treated hospital clinic room. Bilateral air and bone conduction hearing threshold data from 250 through 4000 Hz were validated against conventional booth audiometry. In addition, a small feasibility study was conducted in rural clinics. 70 participants (37 adults and 33 children between the ages 5–18) were assessed. 69% were male, with a mean age of 29.7 years. Sensitivity and specificity for the tablet were 89% (95% CI 80–94%) and 70% (95% CI 56–82%), respectively. While median differences in air conduction thresholds between conventional and tablet audiograms showed statistical significance at 250, 500, and 1000 Hz (p < 0.001), the threshold results of the tablet audiometer were within 5 dB of the conventional audiogram and not clinically significant. Ten patients were successfully screened in rural clinics with tablet audiometry. Tablet portable audiometry is a valid tool for air and bone conduction threshold assessment outside of conventional sound booths. It can accurately identify hearing impairment and offers a screening tool for hearing loss in low resource settings.

Estimation of the National Surgical Needs in India by Enumerating the Surgical Procedures in an Urban Community Under Universal Health Coverage

11% of the global burden of disease requires surgical care or anaesthesia management or both. Some studies have estimated this burden to be as high as 30%. The Lancet Commission for Global Surgery (LCoGS) estimated that 5000 surgeries are required to meet the surgical burden of disease for 100,000 people in LMICs. Studies from LMICs, estimating surgical burden based on enumeration of surgeries, are sparse.

We performed this study in an urban population availing employees’ heath scheme in Mumbai, India. Surgical procedures performed in 2017 and 2018, under this free and equitable health scheme, were enumerated. We estimated the surgical needs for national population, based on age and sex distribution of surgeries and age standardization from our cohort.

A total of 4642 surgeries were performed per year for a population of 88,273. Cataract (22.8%), Caesareans (3.8%), surgeries for fractures (3.27%) and hernia (2.86%) were the commonest surgeries. 44.2% of surgeries belonged to the essential surgeries. We estimated 3646 surgeries would be required per 100,000 Indian population per year. One-third of these surgeries would be needed for the age group 30–49 years, in the Indian population.

A total of 3646 surgeries were estimated annually to meet the surgical needs of Indian population as compared to the global estimate of 5000 surgeries per 100,000 people. Caesarean section, cataract, surgeries for fractures and hernia are the major contributors to the surgical needs. More enumeration-based studies are needed for better estimates from rural as well as other urban areas.

Resuming elective surgeries in Corona pandemic from the perspective of a developing country

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities have entered into a “crisis mode”. One of the measures used to allow hospitals to surge their capacity and serve the patient population with COVID-19 infection was the suspension of elective activity, most importantly elective surgery and other procedures. Now as the infection is fading, efforts are being made to resume elective surgical services keeping in mind the safety of the patient and health care workers. Resuming surgical services in developing countries is an uphill task.

Antibiotic Prescribing to Patients with Infectious and Non-Infectious Indications Admitted to Obstetrics and Gynaecology Departments in Two Tertiary Care Hospitals in Central India

Background: Patients admitted to obstetrics and gynaecology (OBGY) departments are at high risk of infections and subsequent antibiotic prescribing, which may contribute to antibiotic resistance (ABR). Although antibiotic surveillance is one of the cornerstones to combat ABR, it is rarely performed in low- and middle-income countries. Aim: To describe and compare antibiotic prescription patterns among the inpatients in OBGY departments of two tertiary care hospitals, one teaching (TH) and one nonteaching (NTH), in Central India. Methods: Data on patients’ demographics, diagnoses and prescribed antibiotics were collected prospectively for three years. Patients were divided into two categories- infectious and non-infectious diagnosis and were further divided into three groups: surgical, nonsurgical and possible-surgical indications. The data was coded based on the Anatomical Therapeutic Chemical classification system, and the International Classification of Disease system version-10 and Defined Daily Doses (DDDs) were calculated per 1000 patients. Results: In total, 5558 patients were included in the study, of those, 81% in the TH and 85% in the NTH received antibiotics (p < 0.001). Antibiotics were prescribed frequently to the inpatients in the nonsurgical group without any documented bacterial infection (TH-71%; NTH-75%). Prescribing of broad-spectrum, fixed-dose combinations (FDCs) of antibiotics was more common in both categories in the NTH than in the TH. Overall, higher DDD/1000 patients were prescribed in the TH in both categories. Conclusions: Antibiotics were frequently prescribed to the patients with no documented infectious indications. Misprescribing of the broad-spectrum FDCs of antibiotics and unindicated prescribing of antibiotics point towards threat of ABR and needs urgent action. Antibiotics prescribed to the inpatients having nonbacterial infection indications is another point of concern that requires action. Investigation of underlying reasons for prescribing antibiotics for unindicated diagnoses and the development and implementation of antibiotic stewardship programs are recommended measures to improve antibiotic prescribing practice.

Evaluation of Gasless Laparoscopy as a Tool for Minimal Access Surgery in Low- to Middle-Income Countries: A Phase II Non-Inferiority Randomized Controlled Study

Background: Minimal access surgery [MAS] is not available to most people in the rural areas of Low Middle-Income Countries [LMIC]. This leads to an increase in the morbidity and the economic loss to the poor and the marginalized. The Gasless laparoscopic surgeries [GAL] are possible in rural areas as they could be carried out under spinal-anaesthesia. In most cases, it does not require the logistics of providing gases for pneumoperitoneum and general anaesthesia. The current study compares GAL with conventional Laparoscopic surgeries [COL] for general surgical procedures METHODS: A single-centre, non-blinded randomized control trial [RCT] was conducted to evaluate non – inferiority of GAL versus COL at a teaching hospital in New Delhi. Patients were allocated into two groups and underwent MAS (Cholecystectomies and appendectomies). The procedure was carried out by two surgeons by randomly choosing between GAL and COL. The data was collected by postgraduates and analyzed by a biostatistician.

Results: 100 patients who met the inclusion criteria were allocated into two groups. No significant difference was observed in the mean operating time between GAL group (52.9 min) vs COL group (55 minutes) [p=0.3]. The intraoperative vital signs were better in the GAL group [p < 0.05]. The postoperative pain score was slightly higher in the GAL group [p = 0.01]; however, it did not require additional analgesics. Conclusions: No significant differences were found between the two groups. GAL can be classed as non-inferior compared to COL and has the potential to be adopted in low resource settings.

Systematic review of barriers to, and facilitators of, the provision of high‐quality midwifery services in India

The Indian government has committed to implementing high‐quality midwifery care to achieve universal health coverage and reduce the burden of maternal and perinatal mortality and morbidity. There are multiple challenges, including introducing a new cadre of midwives educated to international standards and integrating midwifery into the health system with a defined scope of practice. The objective of this review was to examine the facilitators and barriers to providing high‐quality midwifery care in India.

We searched 15 databases for studies relevant to the provision of midwifery care in India. The findings were mapped to two global quality frameworks to identify barriers and facilitators to providing high‐quality midwifery care in India.

Thirty‐two studies were included. Key barriers were lack of competence of maternity care providers, lack of legislation recognizing midwives as autonomous professionals and limited scope of practice, social and economic barriers to women accessing services, and lack of basic health system infrastructure. Facilitators included providing more hands‐on experience during training, monitoring and supervision of staff, utilizing midwives to their full scope of practice with good referral systems, improving women’s experiences of maternity care, and improving health system infrastructure.

The findings can be used to inform policy and practice. Overcoming the identified barriers will be critical to achieving the Government of India’s plans to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality through the introduction of a new cadre of midwives. This is unlikely to be effective until the facilitators described are in place.

Assessment of Eustachian Tube Functioning Following Surgical Intervention of Oral Submucus Fibrosis by Using Tympanometry & Audiometry

Oral Submucus fibrosis has been reported to cause variation in hearing sensitivity & changes in middle ear function. This study was conducted to validate the influence of OSMF and its surgical correction on middle ear function and hearing sensitivity. In this study, 20 patients (40 ears) suffering from biopsy proven OSMF (Group 2 & 3) were tested for Middle ear dysfunction and hearing sensitivity using Tympanometry & Audiometry. On Tympanometry, Type A curve was obtained in 29 ears, Type B curve in 11 ears preoperatively. Immediate postoperatively TYPE A curve was obtained in 27 ears, TYPE B curve in 13 ears. After 1 month and 3 month Type B curve was not obtained in any ear. On Audiometry,28 ears showed normal hearing and 12 ears showed minimal conductive hearing loss preoperatively and Immediate postoperatively. Tests after 1 month and 3 months showed all 40 ears having normal hearing. Results were found statistically significant with p value 0.000 and F value of 11.331 in Tympanometry and 11.143 in Audiometry. Pearson correlation test revealed that results from both the test are highly co related (0.902). OSMF causes fibrotic changes in paratubal muscles which in addition with restricted mouth opening hampers proper Eustachian tube functioning in turn causing changes in Middle ear function. This feature is seldom/infrequently found in Group 2 and 3 and if encountered can be dealt effectively with surgical intervention.

The Impact of Cleft Lip/Palate and Surgical Intervention on Adolescent Life Outcomes: Evidence from Operation Smile in India

Cleft Lip/Palate (CLP) is a congenital orofacial anomaly appearing in approximately one in 700 births worldwide. While in high-income countries CLP is normally addressed surgically during infancy, in developing countries CLP is often left unoperated, potentially impacting multiple dimensions of life quality. Previous research has frequently compared CLP outcomes to those of the general population. But because local environmental and genetic factors both contribute to the risk of CLP and also may influence life outcomes, such studies may present a downward bias in estimates of both CLP status and restorative surgery. Working with the non- profit organization Operation Smile, this research uses quasi-experimental causal methods on a novel data set of 1,118 Indian children to study the impact of CLP status and CLP correction on the physical, psychological, and social well-being of Indian teenagers. Our results indicate that adolescents with median-level CLP severity show statistically significant losses in indices of speech quality (-1.55), academic and cognitive ability (-0.43), physical well-being (-0.35), psychological well-being (-0.23), and social inclusion (-0.35). We find that CLP surgery improves speech if carried out at an early age, and that it significantly restores social inclusion.

Uro-oncology in Times of COVID-19: The Available Evidence and Recommendations in the Indian Scenario

The Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19), one of the most devastating pandemics ever, has left thousands of cancer patients to their fate. The future course of this pandemic is still an enigma, but health care services are expected to resume soon in a phased manner. This might be a long drawn process and we need to have policies in place, to be able to fight both, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cancer, simultaneously, and emerge triumphant. An extensive literature search for impact of delay in management of various urological malignancies was carried out. Expert opinions were sought wherever there was paucity of evidence, in order to reach a consensus and come up with recommendations for directing uro-oncology services in the times of COVID-19. The panel recommends deferring treatment of patients with renal cell carcinoma by 3 to 6 months, except for those with ongoing hematuria and/or inferior vena cava thrombus, which warrant immediate surgery. Metastatic renal cell cancers should be started on targeted therapy. Low grade non-muscle invasive bladder cancers can be kept on active surveillance while high risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancers and muscle invasive bladder cancers should be treated within 3 months. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy should be avoided. Management of low and intermediate risk prostate cancer can be deferred for 3 to 6months while high risk prostate cancer patients can be initiated on neoadjuvant androgen deprivation therapy. Patients with testicular tumors should undergo high inguinal orchiectomy and be treated according to stage without delay, with stage I patients being offered surveillance. Penile cancers should undergo penectomy, while clinically negative groins can be kept on surveillance. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy should be avoided and adjuvant therapy should be deferred. We need to tailor our treatment strategies to the prevailing present conditions, so as to fight and defeat both, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cancer. Protection of health care workers, judicious use of available resources, and a rational and balanced outlook towards different malignancies is the need of the hour.