Letter to Editor: “Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Deep Learning and Big Data Analytics for Resource Optimization in Surgery”

Dear Editor,

Health care delivery in the pandemic is heavily disrupted. There are high stakes and economic implications are huge especially in more vulnerable low and middle-income group countries (LMICs). It is even more imperative now that we optimize our resources. Artificial intelligence (AI) and its exploits should now be requisitioned. Two subsets of AI are machine learning (ML) which in turn enables deep learning (DL). Big data are analyzed [1]. Such tasks are complex and will require yeoman efforts both on the parts individuals and governments. The respective state and central governments will provide regulatory sanctions. Preparations into big data analysis, machine learning leading to deep learning is likely to save resources. The current pandemic has amply shown this and should prompt us to invest in AI. Efforts and investment in deep learning should be translational in resource allocation and resource triage even during normal settings.

An Analysis of 30-Day in-Hospital Trauma Mortality in Four Urban University Hospitals Using the Australia India Trauma Registry

Background
India has one-sixth (16%) of the world’s population but more than one-fifth (21%) of the world’s injury mortality. A trauma registry established by the Australia India Trauma Systems Collaboration (AITSC) Project was utilized to study 30-day in-hospital trauma mortality at high-volume Indian hospitals.

Methods
The AITSC Project collected data prospectively between April 2016 and March 2018 at four Indian university hospitals in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad. Patients admitted with an injury mechanism of road or rail-related injury, fall, assault, or burns were included. The associations between demographic, physiological on-admission vitals, and process-of-care parameters with early (0–24 h), delayed (1–7 days), and late (8–30 days) in-hospital trauma mortality were analyzed.

Results
Of 9354 patients in the AITSC registry, 8606 were subjected to analysis. The 30-day mortality was 12.4% among all trauma victims. Early (24-h) mortality was 1.9%, delayed (1–7 days) mortality was 7.3%, and late (8–30 days) mortality was 3.2%. Abnormal physiological parameters such as a low SBP, SpO2, and GCS and high HR and RR were observed among non-survivors. Early initiation of trauma assessment and monitoring on arrival was an important process of care indicator for predicting 30-day survival.

Conclusions
One in ten admitted trauma patients (12.4%) died in urban trauma centers in India. More than half of the trauma deaths were delayed, beyond 24 h but within one week following injury. On-admission physiological vital signs remain a valid predictor of early 24-h trauma mortality.

A Novel and Simple Technique of Reconstructing the Central Arch Mandibular Defects-a Solution During the Resource-Constrained Setting of COVID Crisis

The current COVID 19 pandemic has a major impact on healthcare delivery globally. Oral cancer involving anterior arch of mandible is difficult to reconstruct and ideally, requires free fibular osteomyocutaneous flap. During this time of resource constraint situation, these free flaps are not a great choice, as it increases exposure of both patient and surgical team to the deadly virus. We are describing a novel method of reconstruction after resection of oral cancer involving anterior arch of mandible. In this new technique, we have reconstructed central arch defect by hanging bipaddle pectoralis major myocutaneous flap with orbicularis oris muscle using ethylene terephthalate suture. Operative time, early postoperative complications and early cosmetic and functional outcome were assessed. We have used this novel technique in eight patients of T4a oral cancer involving anterior arch of mandible and skin over chin. Mean operative time was 180 min. One patient had minor flap loss with surgical site infection (Clavien-Dindo grade I). In all patients, we were able to discharge all patients on eighth postoperative day. Cosmetic outcome and functional outcomes were mostly satisfactory. All patients were able to oppose their lips without any oral incompetence and drooling. Tongue mobility was good. There was no incidence of ‘Andy Gump deformity’. This is a feasible option for reconstructing anterior arch defect in resource- and time-limited setting of COVID 19 pandemic. This technique can also be used in comorbid conditions where it is not advisable to do very long surgery.

Management of liver trauma in urban university hospitals in India: an observational multicentre cohort study

Background
Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) contribute to 90% of injuries occurring in the world. The liver is one of the commonest organs injured in abdominal trauma. This study aims to highlight the demographic and management profile of liver injury patients, presenting to four urban Indian university hospitals in India.

Methods
This is a retrospective registry-based study. Data of patients with liver injury either isolated or concomitant with other injuries was used using the ICD-10 code S36.1 for liver injury. The severity of injury was graded based on the World Society of Emergency Surgery (WSES) grading for liver injuries.

Results
A total of 368 liver injury patients were analysed. Eighty-nine percent were males, with road traffic injuries being the commonest mechanism. As per WSES liver injury grade, there were 127 (34.5%) grade I, 96 (26.1%) grade II, 70 (19.0%) grade III and 66 (17.9%) grade IV injuries. The overall mortality was 16.6%. Two hundred sixty-two patients (71.2%) were managed non-operatively (NOM), and 106 (38.8%) were operated. 90.1% of those managed non-operatively survived.

Conclusion
In this multicentre cohort of liver injury patients from urban university hospitals in India, the commonest profile of patient was a young male, with a blunt injury to the abdomen due to a road traffic accident. Success rate of non-operative management of liver injury is comparable to other countries.

Epidemiological characteristics of child injury in a tertiary paediatric surgical centre in Bangladesh

While high income countries (HICs) have reduced the mortality from child injury, it is increasing in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). However, injury registry and reporting are inconsistent and not well developed in the LMICs. This study aims at describing the epidemiology of child injury in a tertiary paediatric surgical centre in Bangladesh. We retrospectively analysed all patients of injury between 0 and 12 years of age admitted in the Department of Paediatric Surgery, Chattogram Medical College Hospital during January 2017 to June 2020. Analysis was done for the hospital prevalence, age and sex distribution, seasonal variations, mechanism of injury, site of involvement, and mortality from injury. There were a total of 538 patients and male to female ratio was 2.01:1. Hospital prevalence was 6.71%. Mean age was 6.60 ± 3.32 years. School age children were affected more (51.7%); and “6-10 years” age group had the highest number injuries (251 patients, 46.65%). The most common mechanisms of injuries were road-traffic accident (RTA, 35.32%), followed by fall (26.39%) and „stab or cut injury‟ (20.63%). Males experienced more abdominal injuries and females had more perineal injuries (P=0.00). RTA was the commonest mechanism in males (37.05%) and falls were the commonest mechanism in females (32.96%). „Stab or cut injury‟ was the commonest mechanism in infants and toddlers, and RTA was commonest among pre-school and school age children. There were no significant seasonal variations (P=0.09). There were 5.76% intentional injuries. Mortality was 2.60% and major causes of mortality were RTA and animal assaults. Injuries were more prevalent during the mid-childhood with an overall increasing trend with age. Mechanism of injury and site of involvement were different among different age groups and between sexes.

Palliative surgery in gastrointestinal malignancy: experience from a regional cancer centre

Background: With so much burden of advanced incurable disease, the role of palliative surgery is paramount for gastrointestinal malignancies improving quality of life. Aim of the study was to study the indications, risks and outcome of palliative surgeries in gastrointestinal malignancies, the burden of disease requiring palliative surgery, and to describe strategies to improve end of life care.

Methods: All the patients diagnosed with gastrointestinal malignancy and who underwent palliative surgery between January 2017 and December 2017 were analysed.

Results: A total of 186 cases underwent palliative surgery. The most common age group affected was between 50-60 years and the mean age was 54.55 years. Stomach was the most common primary consisting of 58.60% followed by colorectal (23.66%), small intestine (9.68%), hepato-pacreatico-billiary (4.30%), and oesophageal (3.76%) primary. Major complications were seen in 4.84% of cases. Average symptomatic relief was observed for 5.5 months in cases of stomach and 7 months in case of colorectal malignancies. 35.48% cases were alive at the end of one year.

Conclusions: Present study concludes that palliative surgery improves quality of life of the patient, provides them with time to accept death and live rest of the life in a dignified manner.

Evaluation of Portable Tablet-Based Audiometry in a South Indian Population

While a comprehensive booth audiogram is the gold standard for diagnosis of hearing loss, access to this may not be available in remote and low resource settings. The aims of this study were to validate a tablet-based audiometer in a tertiary medical center in India and explore its capacity in improving access to hearing healthcare. Subjects presenting to Ear–Nose–Throat clinics for conventional booth audiometry testing were recruited for subsequent tablet-based audiometric testing. Testing with the tablet was conducted in a non-sound-treated hospital clinic room. Bilateral air and bone conduction hearing threshold data from 250 through 4000 Hz were validated against conventional booth audiometry. In addition, a small feasibility study was conducted in rural clinics. 70 participants (37 adults and 33 children between the ages 5–18) were assessed. 69% were male, with a mean age of 29.7 years. Sensitivity and specificity for the tablet were 89% (95% CI 80–94%) and 70% (95% CI 56–82%), respectively. While median differences in air conduction thresholds between conventional and tablet audiograms showed statistical significance at 250, 500, and 1000 Hz (p < 0.001), the threshold results of the tablet audiometer were within 5 dB of the conventional audiogram and not clinically significant. Ten patients were successfully screened in rural clinics with tablet audiometry. Tablet portable audiometry is a valid tool for air and bone conduction threshold assessment outside of conventional sound booths. It can accurately identify hearing impairment and offers a screening tool for hearing loss in low resource settings.

Patterns of neurosurgical conditions at a major government hospital in Cambodia

Background: Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have a growing and largely unaddressed neurosurgical burden. Cambodia has been an understudied country regarding the neurosurgical pathologies and case volume. Rapid infrastructure development with noncompliance of safety regulations has led to increased numbers of traumatic injuries. This study examines the neurosurgical caseload and pathologies of a single government institution implementing the first residency program in an effort to understand the neurosurgical needs of this population. Methods: This is a longitudinal descriptive study of all neurosurgical admissions at the Department of Neurosurgery at Preah Kossamak Hospital (PKH), a major government hospital, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, between September 2013 and June 2018. Results: 5490 patients were admitted to PKH requiring neurosurgical evaluation and care. Most of these admissions were cranial injuries related to road traffic accidents primarily involving young men compared to women by approximately 4:1 ratio. Spinal pathologies were more evenly distributed in age and gender, with younger demographics more commonly presenting with traumatic injuries, while the older with degenerative conditions. Conclusions: Despite increased attention and efforts over the past decade, Cambodia’s neurosurgical burden mirrors that of other LMICs, with trauma affecting most patients either on the road or at the workplace. Currently, Cambodia has 34 neurosurgeons to address the growing burden of a country of 15 million with an increasing life expectancy of 69 years of age, stressing the importance of better public health policies and urgency for building capacity for safe and affordable neurosurgical care.

Pediatric Solid Tumor Care and Multidisciplinary Tumor Boards in Low- and Middle-Income Countries in Southeast Asia

PURPOSE
Pediatric solid tumors require coordinated multidisciplinary specialist care. However, expertise and resources to conduct multidisciplinary tumor boards (MDTBs) are lacking in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). We aimed to profile the landscape of pediatric solid tumor care and practices and perceptions on MDTBs among pediatric solid tumor units (PSTUs) in Southeast Asian LMICs.

METHODS
Using online surveys, availability of specialty manpower and MDTBs among PSTUs was first determined. From the subset of PSTUs with MDTBs, one pediatric surgeon and one pediatric oncologist from each center were queried using 5-point Likert scale questions adapted from published questionnaires.

RESULTS
In 37 (80.4%) of 46 identified PSTUs, availability of pediatric-trained specialists was as follows: oncologists, 94.6%; surgeons, 91.9%; radiologists, 54.1%; pathologists, 40.5%; radiation oncologists, 29.7%; nuclear medicine physicians, 13.5%; and nurses, 81.1%. Availability of pediatric-trained surgeons, radiologists, and pathologists was significantly associated with the existence of MDTBs (P = .037, .005, and .022, respectively). Among 43 (89.6%) of 48 respondents from 24 PSTUs with MDTBs, 90.5% of oncologists reported > 50% oncology-dedicated workload versus 22.7% of surgeons. Views on benefits and barriers did not significantly differ between oncologists and surgeons. The majority agreed that MDTBs helped to improve accuracy of treatment recommendations and team competence. Complex cases, insufficient radiology and pathology preparation, and need for supplementary investigations were the top barriers.

CONCLUSION
This first known profile of pediatric solid tumor care in Southeast Asia found that availability of pediatric-trained subspecialists was a significant prerequisite for pediatric MDTBs in this region. Most PSTUs lacked pediatric-trained pathologists and radiologists. Correspondingly, gaps in radiographic and pathologic diagnoses were the most common limitations for MDTBs. Greater emphasis on holistic multidisciplinary subspecialty development is needed to advance pediatric solid tumor care in Southeast Asia.

Resuming elective surgeries in Corona pandemic from the perspective of a developing country

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities have entered into a “crisis mode”. One of the measures used to allow hospitals to surge their capacity and serve the patient population with COVID-19 infection was the suspension of elective activity, most importantly elective surgery and other procedures. Now as the infection is fading, efforts are being made to resume elective surgical services keeping in mind the safety of the patient and health care workers. Resuming surgical services in developing countries is an uphill task.