Perioperative Anticoagulation Management in Spine Surgery: Initial Findings From the AO Spine Anticoagulation Global Survey

Study Design: Cross-sectional, international survey.
Objectives: This study addressed the global perspectives concerning perioperative use of pharmacologic thromboprophylaxis
during spine surgery along with its risks and benefits.
Methods: A questionnaire was designed and implemented by expert members in the AO Spine community. The survey was
distributed to AO Spine’s spine surgeon members (N ¼ 3805). Data included surgeon demographic information, type and region
of practice, anticoagulation principles, different patient scenarios, and comorbidities.
Results: A total of 316 (8.3% response rate) spine surgeons completed the survey, representing 64 different countries. Completed surveys were primarily from Europe (31.7%), South/Latin America (19.9%), and Asia (18.4%). Surgeons tended to be 35 to
44 years old (42.1%), fellowship-trained (74.7%), and orthopedic surgeons (65.5%) from academic institutions (39.6%). Most
surgeons (70.3%) used routine anticoagulation risk stratification, irrespective of geographic location. However, significant differences were seen between continents with anticoagulation initiation and cessation methodology. Specifically, the length of a
procedure (P ¼ .036) and patient body mass index (P ¼ .008) were perceived differently when deciding to begin anticoagulation,
while the importance of medical clearance (P < .001) and reference to literature (P ¼ .035) differed during cessation. For specific
techniques, most providers noted use of mobilization, low-molecular-weight heparin, and mechanical prophylaxis beginning on
postoperative 0 to 1 days. Conversely, bridging regimens were bimodal in distribution, with providers electing anticoagulant
initiation on postoperative 0 to 1 days or days 5-6
Conclusion: This survey highlights the heterogeneity of spine care and accentuates geographical variations. Furthermore, it
identifies the difficulty in providing consistent perioperative anticoagulation recommendations to patients, as there remains no
widely accepted, definitive literature of evidence or guidelines.

An Analysis of Cross-Continental Scholarship Requirements During Neurosurgical Training and National Research Productivity

Objective: Engagement in research and scholarship is considered a hallmark of neurosurgical training. However, the participation of neurosurgical trainees in this experience has only recently been analyzed and described in the United States, with little, if any, data available regarding the research environment in neurosurgical training programs across the globe. Here, the authors set out to identify requirements for research involvement and to quantify publication rates in leading neurosurgical journals throughout various nations across the globe.

Methods: The first aim was to identify the research requirements set by relevant program-accrediting and/or board-certifying agencies via query of the literature and published guidelines. For the second part of the study, the authors attempted to determine each country’s neurosurgical research productivity by quantifying publications in the various large international neurosurgical journals-World Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery, and Neurosurgery-via a structured search of PubMed.

Results: Data on neurosurgical training requirements addressing research were available for 54 (28.1%) of 192 countries. Specific research requirements were identified for 39 countries, partial requirements for 8, and no requirements for 7. Surprisingly, the authors observed a trend of increased average research productivity with the absence of designated research requirements, although this finding is not unprecedented in the literature.

Conclusions: A variety of countries of various sizes and neurosurgical workforce densities across the globe have instituted research requirements during training and/or prior to board certification in neurosurgery. These requirements range in intensity from 1 publication or presentation to the completion of a thesis or dissertation and occur at various time points throughout training. While these requirements do not correlate directly to national research productivity, they may provide a foundation for developing countries to establish a culture of excellence in research.

Neurosurgical Training and Global Health Education: Systematic Review of Challenges and Benefits of In-Country Programs in the Care of Neural Tube Defects

Objective: The recognition that neurosurgeons harbor great potential to advocate for the care of individuals with neural tube defects (NTDs) globally has sounded as a clear call to action; however, neurosurgical care and training in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) present unique challenges that must be considered. The objective of this study was to systematically review publications that describe the challenges and benefits of participating in neurosurgery-related training programs in LMICs in the service of individuals with NTDs.

Methods: Using MEDLINE (PubMed), the authors conducted a systematic review of English- and Spanish-language articles published from 1974 to 2019 that describe the experiences of in-country neurosurgery-related training programs in LMICs. The inclusion criteria were as follows-1) population/exposure: US residents, US neurosurgeons, and local in-country medical staff participating in neurosurgical training programs aimed at improving healthcare for individuals with NTDs; 2) comparison: qualitative studies; and 3) outcome: description of the challenges and benefits of neurosurgical training programs. Articles meeting these criteria were assessed within a global health education conceptual framework.

Results: Nine articles met the inclusion criteria, with the majority of the in-country neurosurgical training programs being seen in subregions of Africa (8/9 [89%]) and one in South/Central America. US-based residents and neurosurgeons who participated in global health neurosurgical training had increased exposure to rare diseases not common in the US, were given the opportunity to work with a collaborative team to educate local healthcare professionals, and had increased exposure to neurosurgical procedures involved in treating NTDs. US neurosurgeons agreed that participating in international training improved their own clinical practices but also recognized that identifying international partners, travel expenses, and interference with their current practice are major barriers to participating in global health education. In contrast, the local medical personnel learned surgical techniques from visiting neurosurgeons, had increased exposure to intraoperative decision-making, and were given guidance to improve postoperative care. The most significant challenges identified were difficulties in local long-term retention of trained fellows and staff, deficient infrastructure, and lower compensation offered for pediatric neurosurgery in comparison to adult care.

Conclusions: The challenges and benefits of international neurosurgical training programs need to be considered to effectively promote the development of neurosurgical care for individuals with NTDs in LMICs. In this global health paradigm, future work needs to investigate further the in-country professionals’ perspective, as well as the related outcomes.

The initial experience of InterSurgeon: an online platform to facilitate global neurosurgical partnerships

Objective: Despite general enthusiasm for international collaboration within the organized neurosurgical community, establishing international partnerships remains challenging. The current study analyzes the initial experience of the InterSurgeon website in partnering surgeons from across the world to increase surgical collaboration.

Methods: One year after the launch of the InterSurgeon website, data were collected to quantify the number of website visits, average session duration, total numbers of matches, and number of offers and requests added to the website each month. Additionally, a 15-question survey was designed and distributed to all registered members of the website.

Results: There are currently 321 surgeon and institutional members of InterSurgeon representing 69 different countries and all global regions. At the time of the survey there were 277 members, of whom 76 responded to the survey, yielding a response rate of 27.4% (76/277). Twenty-five participants (32.9%) confirmed having either received a match email (12/76, 15.8%) or initiated contact with another user via the website (13/76, 17.1%). As expected, the majority of the collaborations were either between a high-income country (HIC) and a low-income country (LIC) (5/18, 27.8%) or between an HIC and a middle-income country (MIC) (9/18, 50%). Interestingly, there were 2 MIC-to-MIC collaborations (2/18, 11.1%) as well as 1 MIC-to-LIC (1/18, 5.6%) and 1 LIC-to-LIC partnership. At the time of response, 6 (33.3%) of the matches had at least resulted in initial contact via email or telephone. One of the partnerships had involved face-to-face interaction via video conference. A total of 4 respondents had traveled internationally to visit their partner’s institution.

Conclusions: Within its first year of launch, the InterSurgeon membership has grown significantly. The partnerships that have already been formed involve not only international visits between HICs and low- to middle-income countries (LMICs), but also telecollaboration and inter-LMIC connections that allow for greater exchange of knowledge and expertise. As membership and site features grow to include other surgical and anesthesia specialties, membership growth and utilization is expected to increase rapidly over time according to social network dynamics.

The Impact of African-trained Neurosurgeons on sub-Saharan Africa

Objective: Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) represents 17% of the world’s land, 14% of the population, and 1% of the gross domestic product. Previous reports have indicated that 81/500 African neurosurgeons (16.2%) worked in SSA-i.e., 1 neurosurgeon per 6 million inhabitants. Over the past decades, efforts have been made to improve neurosurgery availability in SSA. In this study, the authors provide an update by means of the polling of neurosurgeons who trained in North Africa and went back to practice in SSA.

Methods: Neurosurgeons who had full training at the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies (WFNS) Rabat Training Center (RTC) over the past 16 years were polled with an 18-question survey focused on demographics, practice/case types, and operating room equipment availability.

Results: Data collected from all 21 (100%) WFNS RTC graduates showed that all neurosurgeons returned to work to SSA in 12 different countries, 90% working in low-income and 10% in lower-middle-income countries, defined by the World Bank as a Gross National Income per capita of ≤ US$995 and US$996-$3895, respectively. The cumulative population in the geographical areas in which they practice is 267 million, with a total of 102 neurosurgeons reported, resulting in 1 neurosurgeon per 2.62 million inhabitants. Upon return to SSA, WFNS RTC graduates were employed in public/private hospitals (62%), military hospitals (14.3%), academic centers (14.3%), and private practice (9.5%). The majority reported an even split between spine and cranial and between trauma and elective; 71% performed between 50 and more than 100 neurosurgical procedures/year. Equipment available varied across the cohort. A CT scanner was available to 86%, MRI to 38%, surgical microscope to 33%, endoscope to 19.1%, and neuronavigation to 0%. Three (14.3%) neurosurgeons had access to none of the above.

Conclusions: Neurosurgery availability in SSA has significantly improved over the past decade thanks to the dedication of senior African neurosurgeons, organizations, and volunteers who believed in forming the new neurosurgery generation in the same continent where they practice. Challenges include limited resources and the need to continue expanding efforts in local neurosurgery training and continuing medical education. Focus on affordable and low-maintenance technology is needed.

Neurosurgical Randomized Trials in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

BACKGROUND:The setting of a randomized trial can determine whether its findings are generalizable and can therefore apply to different settings. The contribution of low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) to neurosurgical randomized trials has not been systematically described before. OBJECTIVE:To perform a systematic analysis of design characteristics and methodology, funding source, and interventions studied between trials led by and/or conducted in high-income countries (HICs) vs LMICs. METHODS:From January 2003 to July 2016, English-language trials with >5 patients assessing any one neurosurgical procedure against another procedure, nonsurgical treatment, or no treatment were retrieved from MEDLINE, Scopus, and Cochrane Library. Income classification for each country was assessed using the World Bank Atlas method. RESULTS:A total of 73.3% of the 397 studies that met inclusion criteria were led by HICs, whereas 26.7% were led by LMICs. Of the 106 LMIC-led studies, 71 were led by China. If China is excluded, only 8.8% were led by LMICs. HIC-led trials enrolled a median of 92 patients vs a median of 65 patients in LMIC-led trials. HIC-led trials enrolled from 7.6 sites vs 1.8 sites in LMIC-led studies. Over half of LMIC-led trials were institutionally funded (54.7%). The majority of both HIC- and LMIC-led trials evaluated spinal neurosurgery, 68% and 71.7%, respectively. CONCLUSION:We have established that there is a substantial disparity between HICs and LMICs in the number of published neurosurgical trials. A concerted effort to invest in research capacity building in LMICs is an essential step towards ensuring context- and resource-specific high-quality evidence is generated.

Neurosurgical Education in Egypt and Africa

Objective: Africa still significantly lags in the development of neurosurgery. Egypt, located in North Africa, is well-developed in this specialty, with the largest number of neurosurgeons among all African countries. This article provides insight into neurosurgical training in Egypt, the challenges African neurosurgeons are facing, and the requirements needed to enhance neurosurgical education and build up the required neurosurgical capacity in Africa.

Methods: The information presented in the current work was collected from databases of the Egyptian Society of Neurological Surgeons and the World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies.

Results: There are two types of neurosurgical certification in Egypt. The first type is granted by the universities (MD), and the second is awarded by the Ministry of Health (Fellow of Neurosurgery). The program in both types ranges from 6 to 9 years. The number of qualified neurosurgeons in Egypt constitutes one-third of the total number of African neurosurgeons. There is a significant shortage of neurological surgeons in Africa, and the distribution is entirely unbalanced, with the majority of neurosurgeons concentrated in the North and South regions. The most important challenge facing neurosurgery in Africa is lack of resources, which is considered to be the main obstacle to the development of neurosurgery. Other challenges include the limited number of neurosurgeons, lack of training programs, and lack of collaboration among the different regions.

Conclusions: Proper collaboration among the different regions within the African continent regarding neurosurgical education will enhance African neurosurgical capacity and make neurosurgery an independent specialty. The definite functional polarity among different regions, regarding both the number of qualified neurosurgeons and the neurosurgical capacity, is an important factor that could help in the development of neurosurgery in this continent

Utility of Tranexamic acid to minimize blood loss in brain tumour surgery

Tranexamic acid is emerging as a useful option for a number of clinical indications, by virtue of its anti-fibrinolytic properties that allow better haemostasis and lesser blood loss. Herein, the authors have attempted to summarize the existing evidence on the possible role of tranexamic acid in brain tumour surgeries.

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.