COVID-19’s Impact on Neurosurgical Training in Southeast Asia

Objective: Neurosurgery departments worldwide have been forced to restructure their training programs due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this study, we describe the impact of COVID-19 on neurosurgical training in Southeast Asia.

Methods: We conducted an online survey among neurosurgery residents in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand from 22 to 31 May 2020 using Google Forms. The 33-item questionnaire collected data on elective and emergency neurosurgical operations, ongoing learning activities, and health worker safety.

Results: A total of 298 out of 470 neurosurgery residents completed the survey, equivalent to a 63% response rate. The decrease in elective neurosurgical operations in Indonesia and in the Philippines (median=100% for both) was significantly greater compared with other countries (p <.001). For emergency operations, trainees in Indonesia and Malaysia had a significantly greater reduction in their caseload (median=80% and 70%, respectively) compared with trainees in Singapore and Thailand (median=20% and 50%, respectively, p <.001). Neurosurgery residents were most concerned about the decrease in their hands-on surgical experience, uncertainty in their career advancement, and occupational safety in the workplace. Most of the residents (221, 74%) believed that the COVID-19 crisis will have a negative impact on their neurosurgical training overall.

Conclusions: An effective national strategy to control COVID-19 is crucial to sustain neurosurgical training and to provide essential neurosurgical services. Training programs in Southeast Asia should consider developing online learning modules and setting up simulation laboratories, to allow trainees to systematically acquire knowledge and develop practical skills during these challenging times.

Surgery for Radiologically Normal-Appearing Temporal Lobe Epilepsy in a Centre With Limited Resources

Approximately 26-30% of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) cases display a normal-appearing magnetic resonance image (MRI) leading to difficulty in determining the epileptogenic focus. This causes challenges in surgical management, especially in countries with limited resources. The medical records of 154 patients with normal-appearing MRI TLE who underwent epilepsy surgery between July 1999 and July 2019 in our epilepsy centre in Indonesia were examined. The primary outcome was the Engel classification of seizures. Anterior temporal lobectomy was performed in 85.1% of the 154 patients, followed by selective amygdalo-hippocampectomy and resection surgery. Of 82 patients (53.2%), Engel Class I result was reported in 69.5% and Class II in 25.6%. The median seizure-free period was 13 (95% CI,12.550-13.450) years, while the seizure-free rate at 5 and 12 years follow-up was 96.3% and 69.0%, respectively. Patients with a sensory aura had better seizure-free outcome 15 (11.575-18.425) years. Anterior temporal lobectomy and selective amygdala-hippocampectomy gave the same favourable outcome. Despite the challenges of surgical procedures for normal MRI TLE, our outcome has been favourable. This study suggests that epilepsy surgery in normal MRI TLE can be performed in centres with limited resources.

Anorectal Malformation Patients’ Outcomes After Definitive Surgery Using Krickenbeck Classification: A Cross-Sectional Study

The survival of anorectal malformation (ARM) patients has been improved in the last 10 years because of the improvement in management of neonatal care and surgical approaches for ARM patients. Thus, the current management of ARM patients are focusing on the functional outcomes after definitive surgery. Here, we defined the type of ARM and assessed the functional outcomes, including voluntary bowel movement (VBM), soiling, and constipation, in our patients following definitive surgery using Krickenbeck classification.
We conducted a cross-sectional study to retrospectively review medical records of ARM patients who underwent a definitive surgery at Dr. Sardjito Hospital, Indonesia, from 2011 to 2016.
Forty-three ARM patients were ascertained in this study, of whom 30 males and 13 females. Most patients (83.7%) were normal birth weight. There were ARM without fistula (41.9%), followed by rectourethral fistula (25.5%), perineal fistula (18.6%), vestibular fistula (9.3%), and rectovesical fistula (4.7%). The VBM was achived in 53.5% patients, while the soiling and constipation rates were 11.6% and 9.3%, respectively. Interestingly, patients with normal birth weight showed higher frequency of VBM than those with low birth weight (OR = 9.4; 95% CI = 1.0-86.9; p = 0.04), while male patients also had better VBM than females (OR = 3.9; 95% CI = 1.0-15.6) which almost reached a significant level (p = 0.09). However, VBM was not affected by ARM type (p = 0.26). Furthermore, there were no significant associations between gender, birth weight, and ARM type with soiling and constipation, with p-values of 1.0, 1.0, and 0.87; and 0.57, 1.0, and 0.94, respectively.
Functional outcomes of ARM patients in our hospital are considered relatively good with more than half of children showing VBM and only relatively few patients suffering from soiling and constipation. The frequency of VBM might be associated with birth weight and gender, but not ARM type, while the soiling and constipation did not appear to be correlated with birth weight, gender, nor ARM type. Further multicenter study is necessary to compare our findings with other centers.

Management and outcomes following emergency surgery for traumatic brain injury – A multi-centre, international, prospective cohort study (the Global Neurotrauma Outcomes Study).

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) accounts for a significant amount of death and disability worldwide and the majority of this burden affects individuals in low-and-middle income countries. Despite this, considerable geographical differences have been reported in the care of TBI patients. On this background, we aim to provide a comprehensive international picture of the epidemiological characteristics, management and outcomes of patients undergoing emergency surgery for traumatic brain injury (TBI) worldwide. The Global Neurotrauma Outcomes Study (GNOS) is a multi-centre, international, prospective observational cohort study. Any unit performing emergency surgery for TBI worldwide will be eligible to participate. All TBI patients who receive emergency surgery in any given consecutive 30-day period beginning between 1st of November 2018 and 31st of December 2019 in a given participating unit will be included. Data will be collected via a secure online platform in anonymised form. The primary outcome measures for the study will be 14-day mortality (or survival to hospital discharge, whichever comes first). Final day of data collection for the primary outcome measure is February 13th. Secondary outcome measures include return to theatre and surgical site infection. This project will not affect clinical practice and has been classified as clinical audit following research ethics review. Access to source data will be made available to collaborators through national or international anonymised datasets on request and after review of the scientific validity of the proposed analysis by the central study team.