COVID 19 and Laparoscopic Surgeons, the Indian Scenario – Perspective

Coronavirus Disease 2019(COVID 19) had emerged as a global pandemic in recent times. The healthcare sector is at the epicentre of this unprecedented global pandemic challenge. Hospitals all over the world have reduced the number of non-emergency surgeries in order to utilize the staff and resources in a more efficient way. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is most transmitted via respiratory droplets, but risk of transmission is hugely increased while doing aerosol generating procedures (AGPs). Laparoscopy remains the preferred surgical approach for most surgical indications. There is theoretical possibility of generation of aerosols contaminated with COVID-19 from leaked CO2 and smoke generation after energy device use. The aim of this paper is to review available evidence evaluating the risk of spread of COVID-19 during necessary laparoscopic procedures and to compile guidelines from relevant professional organizations to minimize this risk.

Mitigating the risks of surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic

In response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, most governments and professional bodies recommended cancellation of elective surgery. This action was important to free up hospital bed capacity and ensure supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as to protect patients and health-care workers. In The Lancet, The COVIDSurg Collaborative1 report 30-day results of an international cohort study assessing postoperative outcomes in 1128 adults with COVID-19 who were undergoing a broad range of surgeries (605 [53·6%] men and 523 [46·4%] women; 214 [19·0%] aged <50 years, 353 [31·3%] aged 50–69 years, and 558 [49·5%] aged ≥70 years). Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection was diagnosed postoperatively in more than two-thirds of the patients (806 [71·5%]). The primary outcome was overall postoperative mortality at 30 days and the rate was high at 23·8% (268 of 1128 patients). Pulmonary complications occurred in 577 (51·2%) patients and 30-day mortality in these patients was 38·0% (219 of 577), accounting for 82·6% (219 of 265) of all deaths. Risk factors for mortality were patient age of 70 years or older, male sex, poor preoperative physical health status, emergency versus elective surgery, malignant versus benign or obstetric diagnosis, and more extensive (major vs minor) surgery. The high proportion of these patients who were diagnosed with SARS-CoV-2 infection in the postoperative period is of interest. These patients probably acquired their infection before being admitted to hospital, thus reflecting the high prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in the community.

Mortality and pulmonary complications in patients undergoing surgery with perioperative SARS-CoV-2 infection: an international cohort study

Background
The impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on postoperative recovery needs to be understood to inform clinical decision making during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This study reports 30-day mortality and pulmonary complication rates in patients with perioperative SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Methods
This international, multicentre, cohort study at 235 hospitals in 24 countries included all patients undergoing surgery who had SARS-CoV-2 infection confirmed within 7 days before or 30 days after surgery. The primary outcome measure was 30-day postoperative mortality and was assessed in all enrolled patients. The main secondary outcome measure was pulmonary complications, defined as pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome, or unexpected postoperative ventilation.

Findings
This analysis includes 1128 patients who had surgery between Jan 1 and March 31, 2020, of whom 835 (74·0%) had emergency surgery and 280 (24·8%) had elective surgery. SARS-CoV-2 infection was confirmed preoperatively in 294 (26·1%) patients. 30-day mortality was 23·8% (268 of 1128). Pulmonary complications occurred in 577 (51·2%) of 1128 patients; 30-day mortality in these patients was 38·0% (219 of 577), accounting for 82·6% (219 of 265) of all deaths. In adjusted analyses, 30-day mortality was associated with male sex (odds ratio 1·75 [95% CI 1·28–2·40], p<0·0001), age 70 years or older versus younger than 70 years (2·30 [1·65–3·22], p<0·0001), American Society of Anesthesiologists grades 3–5 versus grades 1–2 (2·35 [1·57–3·53], p<0·0001), malignant versus benign or obstetric diagnosis (1·55 [1·01–2·39], p=0·046), emergency versus elective surgery (1·67 [1·06–2·63], p=0·026), and major versus minor surgery (1·52 [1·01–2·31], p=0·047).

Interpretation
Postoperative pulmonary complications occur in half of patients with perioperative SARS-CoV-2 infection and are associated with high mortality. Thresholds for surgery during the COVID-19 pandemic should be higher than during normal practice, particularly in men aged 70 years and older. Consideration should be given for postponing non-urgent procedures and promoting non-operative treatment to delay or avoid the need for surgery.

Funding
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland, Bowel and Cancer Research, Bowel Disease Research Foundation, Association of Upper Gastrointestinal Surgeons, British Association of Surgical Oncology, British Gynaecological Cancer Society, European Society of Coloproctology, NIHR Academy, Sarcoma UK, Vascular Society for Great Britain and Ireland, and Yorkshire Cancer Research.

Academic Advancement in Global Surgery Appointment, Promotion, and Tenure Recommendations From the American Surgical Association Working Group on Global Surgery

There is growing interest in global surgery among US academic surgical departments. As academic global surgery is a relatively new field, departments may have minimal experience in evaluation of faculty contributions and how they integrate into the existing academic paradigm for promotion and tenure. The American Surgical Association Working Group on Global Surgery has developed recommendations for promotion and tenure in global surgery, highlighting criteria that: (1) would be similar to usual promotion and tenure criteria (eg, publications); (2) would likely be undervalued in current criteria (eg, training, administrative roles, or other activities that are conducted at low- and middle-income partner institutions and promote the partnerships upon which other global surgery activities depend); and (3) should not be considered (eg, mission trips or other clinical work, if not otherwise linked to funding, training, research, or building partnerships).

Sex Disparities in the Global Burden of Surgical Disease

The 2015 Lancet Commission on Global Surgery and 2015 Global Burden of Disease study provide evidence for the increasing relative burden of noncommunicable diseases in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including surgical conditions such as injuries, gastrointestinal diseases, and cancer [1, 2]. While many of these conditions affect both men and women, women bear a large burden of sex-specific surgical disease.

Ethical Considerations in Global Surgery: A Scoping Review

Introduction: An unmet burden of surgical disease exists worldwide and is disproportionately shouldered by low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs). As the field of global surgery grows to meet this need, ethical considerations need to be addressed. Currently, there are no formal guidelines to help inform relevant stakeholders of the ethical challenges and considerations facing global surgical collaborations. The aim of this scoping review is to synthesise the existing literature on ethics in global surgery and identify gaps in the current knowledge.

Methods: A scoping review of relevant databases to identify the literature pertaining to ethics in global surgery was performed. Eligible articles addressed at least one ethical consideration in global surgery. A grounded theory approach to content analysis was used to identify themes in the included literature and guide the identification of gaps in existing literature.

Results: Four major ethical domains were identified in the literature: clinical care and delivery; education and exchange of trainees; research, monitoring and evaluation; and engagement in collaborations and partnerships. The majority of published literature related to issues of clinical care and delivery of the individual patient. Most of the published literature was published exclusively by authors in high-income countries (HICs) (80%), and the majority of articles were in the form of editorials or commentaries (69.1%). Only 12.7% of articles published were original research studies.

Conclusion: The literature on ethics in global surgery remains sparse, with most publications coming from HICs, and focusing on clinical care and short-term surgical missions. Given that LMICs are frequently the recipients of global surgical initiatives, the relative absence of literature from their perspective needs to be addressed. Furthermore, there is a need for more literature focusing on the ethics surrounding sustainable collaborations and partnerships.

Cross-sectional study of surgical quality with a novel evidence-based tool for low-resource settings

Background Adverse events from surgical care are a major cause of death and disability, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries. Metrics for quality of surgical care developed in high-income settings are resource-intensive and inappropriate in most lower resource settings. The purpose of this study was to apply and assess the feasibility of a new tool to measure surgical quality in resource-constrained settings.

Methods This is a cross-sectional study of surgical quality using a novel evidence-based tool for quality measurement in low-resource settings. The tool was adapted for use at a tertiary hospital in Amazonas, Brazil resulting in 14 metrics of quality of care. Nine metrics were collected prospectively during a 4-week period, while five were collected retrospectively from the hospital administrative data and operating room logbooks.

Results 183 surgeries were observed, 125 patient questionnaires were administered and patient charts for 1 year were reviewed. All metrics were successfully collected. The study site met the proposed targets for timely process (7 hours from admission to surgery) and effective outcome (3% readmission rate). Other indicators results were equitable structure (1.1 median patient income to catchment population) and equitable outcome (2.5% at risk of catastrophic expenditure), safe outcome (2.6% perioperative mortality rate) and effective structure (fully qualified surgeon present 98% of cases).

Conclusion It is feasible to apply a novel surgical quality measurement tool in resource-limited settings. Prospective collection of all metrics integrated within existing hospital structures is recommended. Further applications of the tool will allow the metrics and targets to be refined and weighted to better guide surgical quality improvement measures.

Effective Hand Preparation for Surgical Procedures in Low- and Middle-Income Countries

Background: The burden of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) is greatest in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs); surgical site infections (SSIs) are the most common HAI in LMICs. Hand hygiene is the single most effective strategy for reducing HAIs and the transmission of antimicrobial drug-resistant pathogens. Similarly, effective surgical hand preparation is a critical step in the prevention of SSIs in the surgical patient. Methods: Surgical hand preparation (SHP) is a seemingly simple activity that is easily overlooked. Performed properly, however, along with other measures, it has the potential to reduce SSIs in LMICs. The article reviews the current state of surgical hand preparation in LMICs. Results: Alcohol-based handrubs (ABHRs) have received wide acceptance by healthcare workers for both hand hygiene and SHP; when mixed with emollients, ABHRs retain efficacy against microorganisms and gain skin tolerability and user acceptability. Healthcare institutions in many LMICs face difficulties obtaining the products needed to ensure effective SHP using ABHRs. Conclusion: The ABHRs are the most efficacious surgical hand preparation products available today. They are cost-effective and can safely be prepared locally in hospitals, even in LMICs. The challenge of access to ABHRs should be addressed by national and local governments, through advocacy by healthcare workers coupled with continued lobbying and campaigns by the World Health Organization. Effective surgical hand preparation, like hand hygiene, saves lives.

Barriers to Women Entering Surgical Careers: A Global Study into Medical Student Perceptions

Background: Barriers to female surgeons entering the field are well documented in Australia, the USA and the UK, but how generalizable these problems are to other regions remains unknown.

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was developed by the International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA)’s Global Surgery Working Group assessing medical students’ desire to pursue a surgical career at different stages of their medical degree. The questionnaire also included questions on students’ perceptions of their education, resources and professional life. The survey was distributed via IFMSA mailing lists, conferences and social media. Univariate analysis was performed, and statistically significant exposures were added to a multivariate model. This model was then tested in male and female medical students, before a further subset analysis by country World Bank income strata.

Results: 639 medical students from 75 countries completed the survey. Mentorship [OR 3.42 (CI 2.29-5.12) p = 0.00], the acute element of the surgical specialties [OR 2.22 (CI 1.49-3.29) p = 0.00], academic competitiveness [OR 1.61 (CI 1.07-2.42) p = 0.02] and being from a high or upper-middle-income country (HIC and UMIC) [OR 1.56 (CI 1.021-2.369) p = 0.04] all increased likelihood to be considering a surgical career, whereas perceived access to postgraduate training [OR 0.63 (CI 0.417-0.943) p = 0.03], increased year of study [OR 0.68 (CI 0.57-0.81) p = 0.00] and perceived heavy workload [OR 0.47 (CI 0.31-0.73) p = 0.00] all decreased likelihood to consider a surgical career. Perceived quality of surgical teaching and quality of surgical services in country overall did not affect students’ decision to pursue surgery. On subset analysis, perceived poor access to postgraduate training made women 60% less likely to consider a surgical career [OR 0.381 (CI 0.217-0.671) p = 0.00], whilst not showing an effect in the men [OR 1.13 (CI 0.61-2.12) p = 0.70. Concerns about high cost of training halve the likelihood of students from low and low-middle-income countries (LICs and LMICs) considering a surgical career [OR 0.45 (CI 0.25-0.82) p = 0.00] whilst not demonstrating a significant relationship in HIC or UMIC countries. Women from LICs and LMICs were 40% less likely to consider surgical careers than men, when controlling for other factors [OR 0.59 CI (0.342-1.01 p = 0.053].

Conclusion: Perceived poor access to postgraduate training and heavy workload dissuade students worldwide from considering surgical careers. Postgraduate training in particular appears to be most significant for women and cost of training an additional factor in both women and men from LMICs and LICs. Mentorship remains an important and modifiable factor in influencing student’s decision to pursue surgery. Quality of surgical education showed no effect on student decision-making.

Cross-sectional study of surgical quality with a novel evidence-based tool for low-resource settings

Background: Adverse events from surgical care are a major cause of death and disability, particularly in low-and-middle-income countries. Metrics for quality of surgical care developed in high-income settings are resource-intensive and inappropriate in most lower resource settings. The purpose of this study was to apply and assess the feasibility of a new tool to measure surgical quality in resource-constrained settings.

Methods: This is a cross-sectional study of surgical quality using a novel evidence-based tool for quality measurement in low-resource settings. The tool was adapted for use at a tertiary hospital in Amazonas, Brazil resulting in 14 metrics of quality of care. Nine metrics were collected prospectively during a 4-week period, while five were collected retrospectively from the hospital administrative data and operating room logbooks.

Results; 183 surgeries were observed, 125 patient questionnaires were administered and patient charts for 1 year were reviewed. All metrics were successfully collected. The study site met the proposed targets for timely process (7 hours from admission to surgery) and effective outcome (3% readmission rate). Other indicators results were equitable structure (1.1 median patient income to catchment population) and equitable outcome (2.5% at risk of catastrophic expenditure), safe outcome (2.6% perioperative mortality rate) and effective structure (fully qualified surgeon present 98% of cases).

Conclusion: It is feasible to apply a novel surgical quality measurement tool in resource-limited settings. Prospective collection of all metrics integrated within existing hospital structures is recommended. Further applications of the tool will allow the metrics and targets to be refined and weighted to better guide surgical quality improvement measures.