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.

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.

Ultrasound-guided pericardiocentesis: a novel parasternal approach

The aim of this study was to evaluate a novel pericardiocentesis technique using an in-plane parasternal medial-to-lateral approach with the use of a high-frequency probe in patients with cardiac tamponade.
Echocardiography is pivotal in the diagnosis of pericardial effusion and tamponade physiology. Ultrasound guidance for pericardiocentesis is currently considered the standard of care. Several approaches have been described recently, which differ mainly on the site of puncture (subxiphoid, apical, or parasternal). Although they share the use of low-frequency probes, there is absence of complete control of needle trajectory and real-time needle visualization. An in-plane and real-time technique has only been described anecdotally.
A retrospective analysis of 11 patients (63% men, mean age: 37.7±21.2 years) presenting with cardiac tamponade admitted to the tertiary-care emergency department and treated with parasternal medial-to-lateral in-plane pericardiocentesis was carried out. The underlying causes of cardiac tamponade were different among the population. All the pericardiocentesis were successfully performed in the emergency department, without complications, relieving the hemodynamic instability. The mean time taken to perform the eight-step procedure was 309±76.4 s, with no procedure-related complications.
The parasternal medial-to-lateral in-plane pericardiocentesis is a new technique theoretically free of complications and it enables real-time monitoring of needle trajectory. For the first time, a pericardiocentesis approach with a medial-to-lateral needle trajectory and real-time, in-plane, needle visualization was performed in a tamponade patient population.