Robotic external ventricular drain placement for acute neurosurgical care in low-resource settings: feasibility considerations and a prototype design

Emergency neurosurgical care in lower-middle-income countries faces pronounced shortages in neurosurgical personnel and infrastructure. In instances of traumatic brain injury (TBI), hydrocephalus, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, the timely placement of external ventricular drains (EVDs) strongly dictates prognosis and can provide necessary stabilization before transfer to a higher-level center of care that has access to neurosurgery. Accordingly, the authors have developed an inexpensive and portable robotic navigation tool to allow surgeons who do not have explicit neurosurgical training to place EVDs. In this article, the authors aimed to highlight income disparities in neurosurgical care, evaluate access to CT imaging around the world, and introduce a novel, inexpensive robotic navigation tool for EVD placement.

By combining the worldwide distribution of neurosurgeons, CT scanners, and gross domestic product with the incidence of TBI, meningitis, and hydrocephalus, the authors identified regions and countries where development of an inexpensive, passive robotic navigation system would be most beneficial and feasible. A prototype of the robotic navigation system was constructed using encoders, 3D-printed components, machined parts, and a printed circuit board.

Global analysis showed Montenegro, Antigua and Barbuda, and Seychelles to be primary candidates for implementation and feasibility testing of the novel robotic navigation system. To validate the feasibility of the system for further development, its performance was analyzed through an accuracy study resulting in accuracy and repeatability within 1.53 ± 2.50 mm (mean ± 2 × SD, 95% CI).

By considering regions of the world that have a shortage of neurosurgeons and a high incidence of EVD placement, the authors were able to provide an analysis of where to prioritize the development of a robotic navigation system. Subsequently, a proof-of-principle prototype has been provided, with sufficient accuracy to target the ventricles for EVD placement.

Estimated incidence and case fatality rate of traumatic brain injury among children (0–18 years) in Sub-Saharan Africa. A systematic review and meta-analysis

Studies from Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) countries have reported on the incidence and case fatality rate of children with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). However, there is lack of a general epidemiologic description of the phenomenon in this sub-region underpinning the need for an accurate and reliable estimate of incidence and outcome of children (0–18 years) with TBI. This study therefore, extensively reviewed data to reliably estimate incidence, case fatality rate of children with TBI and its mechanism of injury in SSA.

Electronic databases were systematically searched in English via Medline (PubMed), Google Scholar, and Africa Journal Online (AJOL). Two independent authors performed an initial screening of studies based on the details found in their titles and abstracts. Studies were assessed for quality/risk of bias using the modified Newcastle-Ottawa Scale (NOS). The pooled case fatality rate and incidence were estimated using DerSimonian and Laird random-effects model (REM). A sub-group and sensitivity analyses were performed. Publication bias was checked by the funnel plot and Egger’s test. Furthermore, trim and fill analysis was used to adjust for publication bias using Duval and Tweedie’s method.

Thirteen (13) hospital-based articles involving a total of 40685 participants met the inclusion criteria. The pooled case fatality rate for all the included studies in SSA was 8.0%; [95% CI: 3.0%-13.0%], and the approximate case fatality rate was adjusted to 8.2%, [95% CI:3.4%-13.0%], after the trim-and-fill analysis was used to correct for publication bias. A sub-group analysis of sub-region revealed that case fatality rate was 8% [95% CI: 2.0%-13.0%] in East Africa, 1.0% [95% CI: 0.1% -3.0%] in Southern Africa and 18.0% [95% CI: 6.0%-29.0%] in west Africa. The pooled incidence proportion of TBI was 18% [95% CI: 2.0%-33.0%]. The current review showed that Road Traffic Accident (RTA) was the predominant cause of children’s TBI in SSA. It ranged from 19.1% in South Africa to 79.1% in Togo.

TBI affects 18% of children aged 0 to 18 years, with almost one-tenth dying in SSA. The most common causes of TBI among this population in SSA were RTA and falls. TBI incidence and case fatality rate of people aged 0–18 years could be significantly reduced if novel policies focusing on reducing RTA and falls are introduced and implemented in SSA.

Practice variation in perioperative steroid dosing for brain tumor patients: an international survey

Steroids are commonly used against peritumoral edema and increased intracranial pressure in brain tumor patients. Despite the widespread use of steroids, relatively little evidence is available about their optimal perioperative dosing scheme. This study aims to increase insight into practice variation of perioperative steroid dosing and tapering schedules used in the neurosurgical community.

An electronic survey consisting of 27 questions regarding steroid dosing, tapering schedules, and adverse events was conducted among neurosurgeons between December 6th, 2019 and June 1st, 2020. The survey was distributed through the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies and social media platforms. Collected data were assessed for quantitative and qualitative analysis.

The survey obtained 175 responses from 55 countries across six continents, including 30 from low- or middle-income countries; 152 (87%) respondents completed all questions. In total, 130 respondents (80%) indicated prescribing perioperative steroids. Reported doses ranged from 2 to 64 mg/day in schedules ranging from one to four times daily. The most prescribed steroid was dexamethasone in a dose of 16 mg/day (n = 49; 31%), followed by 12 mg/day (n = 31; 20%) and 8 mg/day (n = 18; 12%). No significant association was found between prescribed dose and physician and institutional characteristics.

Steroids are commonly prescribed perioperatively in brain tumor patients. However, there is a great practice variation in dosing and schedules among neurosurgeons. Future investigation in a prospective and preferably randomized manner is needed to identify an optimal dosing scheme and implement (inter)national guidelines for steroid use.

Factors Explaining Quality of Life among People with Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury in Bangladesh: A Cross-Sectional Study

Traumatic brain injury leads to mortality and disability with consequences for the poor quality of life of people. Little study regarding the quality of life of people with traumatic brain injury in Bangladesh exists. This cross-sectional study aims to examine the quality of life and its influencing factors among people with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury. The participants were 249 people with moderate to severe traumatic brain injury, and their caregivers recruited from three public hospitals in Bangladesh. Data were collected through questionnaires including socio-demographic, the Injury Related Illness and Injury Severity Score questionnaire, the Charlson Comorbidity Index, the Modified Barthel Index, the Patients Health Questionnaire-9, the MOS-Social Support Survey, the Quality of Life after Brain Injury (QOLIBRI), the caregiver socio-demographic, and the Caregiver Preparedness Scale. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Pearson’s correlation test, and stepwise multiple regression model.
Results showed that majority of the people reported a poor quality of life. Stepwise multiple regression analysis revealed that social support, caregiver preparedness, depression, and income, were significant factors and could explain 37% variance of quality of life. To improve the quality of life among people with traumatic brain injury, nurses should seek significant resources to support them, perform emotional support to prevent depression and prepare their caregivers with knowledge and proper skills for patients’ care. Eventually, they can have healthy transition and obtain desirable health outcomes with good quality of life.

Towards integration of transcranial Doppler in the management of severe TBI in LICs and LMICs: A cohort retrospective study

Medical first-line management to fight against raised intracranial pressure due to severe TBI in LICs and LMICs is still precarious, especially with the lack of means for adequate monitoring of intracranial pressure.

In the cohort retrospective study, we aimed to show if the TCD could have an impact on decision-making to operate and on the GOS.

Patients treated at bi-institutional between March 2017 and July 2019, were included if they had Moderate to Severe TBI treated surgically. Variables associated with the outcome were tested using uni and multivariable analyses.

One hundred and thirty-six TBI patients were admitted for management during the study period, 21 and 44 were excluded respectively because they were managed medically only, and were benign trauma. Seventy-one(71) patients were included in the final analysis. They had a mean age of 44.27 years old (+/− 15.99) at diagnosis and there was a male predominance (n = 59, 83,1%). 52(73.2%) of them benefited from TCD. The mean time between admission and the surgery in a cohort of patients from TCD monitoring was 6 h ± 4 vs 8 h ± 3 (P = 0.003). The mean GOS in the cohort group with non-TCD was 4,7 ± 1,1 versus 4,3 ± 1,1(P = 0.047)in the non-TCD cohort group. The paired test revealed statically significantly positive in the use of TCD for Severe TBI, Z = -3.859, P = 0.044 with a median effect (r = 0.23).

TCD has an impact on the early decision to go for DC and has a median effect on GOS.

Implementation of the infrascanner in the detection of post-traumatic intracranial bleeding: A narrative review

Infrascanner is a portable and easy-to-use device that functions based on near infrared spectroscopy and can be utilized in prehospitalary and hospitalary environments and has risen as a promising resort for the detection of potentially lethal intracranial hemorrhages, especially in low-and-middle income countries where access to a tomographer is limited.

The reviewed articles showed that the Infrascanner has a sensitivity that ranges from 68.7% to 100% and a specificity that ranges from 50.43% to 95.5% for intracranial bleedings.

The device has shown promising results in the detection of intracranial bleeding and has great potential for its applicability, especially in low- and middle-income countries. More studies are needed for the validation of its diagnostic accuracy and its correlation to the CT scan.

Hydatid brain cyst: A delayed diagnosis in a rural setting during COVID-19

A previously healthy 10-year-old girl, living in a sheep-farming community in South Africa with exposure to dogs, presented to her local hospital with generalised tonic-clonic seizures. The initial clinical assessment and laboratory work-up were unremarkable. When she presented with further seizures 6 months later, attempts to arrange neuroimaging and specialist assessment were unsuccessful owing to restrictions on routine healthcare services during the SARS-CoV-2 nationwide lockdown. Subsequently, 11 months after her first presentation, she developed focal neurological signs suggestive of raised intracranial pressure. A brain computed tomography scan revealed a left-sided cerebral cyst and imminent tonsillar herniation. An emergency burr-hole procedure was performed to relieve the raised intracranial pressure, followed by definitive neurosurgical excision of cysts. Hydatid protoscolices and hooklets were seen on microscopy of cyst fluid, and treatment with albendazole and praziquantel was initiated. While her infection was treated successfully, long-term sequelae including permanent blindness and hemiparesis could potentially have been prevented with early neuroimaging and surgical intervention.

Diagnosis and Management of Traumatic Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: Protocol for a Scoping Review

Globally, 69 million people suffer from traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year and TBI is the most common cause of subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH). Traumatic SAH (TSAH) has been described as an adverse prognostic factor leading to progressive neurological deterioration and an increase in morbidity and mortality, but there are a limited number of studies which evaluate recent trends in the diagnostic and management of SAH in the context of trauma.

The objective of this scoping review was to understand the extent and type of evidence in relation to the diagnostic criteria and management of TSAH.

This scoping review will be conducted in accordance with the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology for scoping reviews. A 3-step search strategy (an initial limited search in PubMed and Scopus databases; a main search of EMBASE, Web of Science, EBSCO, MEDLINE; and manual searches of reference lists of included articles) will be utilized. The search will be limited to studies with human participants and published in English, Spanish, and French between 2005 and 2020. This review will consider studies of adolescent and adult patients with SAH secondary to trauma. Study selection will be performed by 2 authors (DG and LF) in a 2-phase process; if any disagreement arises, a third author (AR) will be consulted. Data to be extracted from each study will include population, intervention, comparator and outcome measures, and a summary of findings. Citation screening, full-text review, risk of bias assessment, and extraction of study characteristics and outcomes will be carried out using a web-based software platform that streamlines the production of scoping reviews.

Ethics approval is not required for this systematic review, as there will be no patient involvement. The search for this systematic review commenced in December 2020, and we expect to publish the findings in early 2021. The plan for dissemination is to publish review findings in a peer-reviewed journal and present findings at conferences that engage the most pertinent stakeholders.

This scoping review will serve as an initial step in providing more evidence for health care professionals, economists, and policymakers so that they might devote more resources toward this significant problem affecting both health and economic outcomes worldwide.

Factors associated with hospital outcomes of patients with penetrating craniocerebral injuries in armed conflict areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo: a retrospective series

Penetrating craniocerebral injuries (PCCI) are types of open head injuries caused by sharp objects or missiles, resulting in communication between the cranial cavity and the external environment. This condition is deemed to be more prevalent in armed conflict regions where both civilians and military are frequently assaulted on the head, but paradoxically their hospital outcomes are under-reported. We aimed to identify factors associated with poor hospital outcomes of patients with PCCI.

This was a retrospective series of patients admitted at the Regional Hospital of Bukavu, DRC, from 2010 to 2020. We retrieved medical records of patients with PCCI operated in the surgical departments. A multivariate logistic regression model was performed to find associations between patients’ admission clinico-radiological parameters and hospital outcomes. Poor outcome was defined as a Glasgow Outcomes Score below 4.

The prevalence of PCCI was 9.1% (91/858 cases) among admitted TBI patients. More than one-third (36.2%) of patients were admitted with GCS < 13, and 40.6% of them were unstable hemodynamic. Hemiplegia was found in 23.1% on admission. Eight patients had an intracerebral hemorrhage. Among the 69 operated patients, complications, mainly infectious, occurred in half (50.7%) of patients. Poor hospital outcomes were observed in 30.4% and associated with an admission GCS < 13, hemodynamic instability, intracerebral hemorrhage, and hemiplegia (p < 0.05).

The hospital poor outcomes are observed when patients present with hemodynamic instability, an admission GCS < 13, intracerebral hemorrhage, and hemiplegia. There is a need for optimizing the initial care of patients with PCCI in armed conflict regions.

Think global, act local: Burn care in a resource-limited setting

The burden of burn injuries remains a major global health issue.1,2 Worldwide,millions of people suffer from burns and burn-related disabilities and deformities. Every year over 8 million people require medical attention due to burns. Burns cause an estimated loss of 8.5 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) each year due to premature death and disability.3 Five per cent of all injury-related deaths are caused by burns, which amounts to an estimated 120,000 deaths annually.4 Non-fatal burns are a leading cause of disability, which cause long-term physical and psychological problems.5,6 There are large differences in burn care worldwide.1 In high-income countries (HICs) major progress has been made in acute burn care over the past decades. With advancements made in the prevention of burns and treatments of wounds, the incidence of burns has decreased and the survival rate of patients has increased. The current mortality reported by HICs is 1.5%.7 This is in stark contrast to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). In these countries the burden of burn incidence, mortality and morbidity remains high.1,8,9 The vast majority of all burns globally occur in LMICs. This is because people use open fires in daily life, for example for cooking, heating and agriculture. The incidence of burns in these countries is estimated to be 1.3 per 100,000 people, compared to 0.14 per 100,000 people in HICs.8,10 The few existing studies from LMICs show that poor populations are most at risk of sustaining burns, and that the majority of patients are children.1,2,9,11,12 The higher morbidity and mortality is a consequence of the fact that geographically isolated and economically disadvantaged populations have limited access to safe and timely burn care.2 Due to this lack of care, 95% of all fatal fire-related cases of mortality due to burns occurs in LMICs. Studies have estimated that the risk of child mortality due to burns is currently over seven times
higher in LMICs compared to HICs