General Thoracic Surgery Services Across Asia During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 posed an historic challenge to healthcare systems around the world. Besides mounting a massive response to the viral outbreak, healthcare systems needed to consider provision of clinical services to other patients in need. Surgical services for patients with thoracic disease were maintained to different degrees across various regions of Asia, ranging from significant reductions to near-normal service. Key determinants of robust thoracic surgery service provision included: preexisting plans for an epidemic response, aggressive early action to “flatten the curve”, ability to dedicate resources separately to COVID-19 and routine clinical services, prioritization of thoracic surgery, and the volume of COVID-19 cases in that region. The lessons learned can apply to other regions during this pandemic, and to the world, in preparation for the next one.

Uro-oncology in Times of COVID-19: The Available Evidence and Recommendations in the Indian Scenario

The Corona Virus Disease-2019 (COVID-19), one of the most devastating pandemics ever, has left thousands of cancer patients to their fate. The future course of this pandemic is still an enigma, but health care services are expected to resume soon in a phased manner. This might be a long drawn process and we need to have policies in place, to be able to fight both, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cancer, simultaneously, and emerge triumphant. An extensive literature search for impact of delay in management of various urological malignancies was carried out. Expert opinions were sought wherever there was paucity of evidence, in order to reach a consensus and come up with recommendations for directing uro-oncology services in the times of COVID-19. The panel recommends deferring treatment of patients with renal cell carcinoma by 3 to 6 months, except for those with ongoing hematuria and/or inferior vena cava thrombus, which warrant immediate surgery. Metastatic renal cell cancers should be started on targeted therapy. Low grade non-muscle invasive bladder cancers can be kept on active surveillance while high risk non-muscle invasive bladder cancers and muscle invasive bladder cancers should be treated within 3 months. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy should be avoided. Management of low and intermediate risk prostate cancer can be deferred for 3 to 6months while high risk prostate cancer patients can be initiated on neoadjuvant androgen deprivation therapy. Patients with testicular tumors should undergo high inguinal orchiectomy and be treated according to stage without delay, with stage I patients being offered surveillance. Penile cancers should undergo penectomy, while clinically negative groins can be kept on surveillance. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy should be avoided and adjuvant therapy should be deferred. We need to tailor our treatment strategies to the prevailing present conditions, so as to fight and defeat both, the SARS-CoV-2 virus and cancer. Protection of health care workers, judicious use of available resources, and a rational and balanced outlook towards different malignancies is the need of the hour.

Missed opportunities for epilepsy surgery referrals in Bhutan: A cohort study

Objective: To quantify the missed opportunities for epilepsy surgery referral and operationalize the Canadian Appropriateness of Epilepsy Surgery (CASES) tool for use in a lower income country without neurologists.

Methods: People with epilepsy were recruited from the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital from 2014-2016. Each participant was clinically evaluated, underwent at least one standard EEG, and was invited to undergo a free 1.5 T brain MRI. Clinical variables required for CASES were operationalized for use in lower-income populations and entered into the free, anonymous website tool.

Findings: There were 209 eligible participants (mean age 28.4 years, 56 % female, 179 with brain MRI data). Of the 179 participants with brain MRI, 43 (24.0 %) were appropriate for an epilepsy surgery referral, 21 (11.7 %) were uncertain, and 115 (64.3 %) were inappropriate for referral. Among the 43 appropriate referral cases, 36 (83.7 %) were “very high” and 7 (16.3 %) were “high” priorities for referral. For every unit increase in surgical appropriateness, quality of life (QoL) dropped by 2.3 points (p-value 1 antiepileptic drug prior to enrollment, 42 (61.8 %) were appropriate referrals, 14 (20.6 %) were uncertain, and 12 (17.6 %) were inappropriate.

Conclusion: Approximately a quarter of Bhutanese epilepsy patients who completed evaluation in this national referral-based hospital should have been evaluated for epilepsy surgery, sometimes urgently. Surgical services for epilepsy are an emerging priority for improving global epilepsy care and should be scaled up through international partnerships and clinician support algorithms like CASES to avoid missed opportunities.

Role of Surgical Modality and Timing of Surgery as Clinical Outcome Predictors Following Acute Subdural Hematoma Evacuation

Background & objective
A Craniotomy (CO) or decompressive craniectomy (DC) are the two main surgical procedures employed for evacuation of acute traumatic subdural hematoma (ASDH). However, the optimal surgical procedure remains controversial. The beneficial effect of early surgical evacuation of acute subdural hematoma in improving outcome also remains unclear. Our objective was to study the role of these two parameters in determining the outcome in patients undergoing surgical evacuation of acute traumatic subdural hematoma.
A retrospective analysis of 58 patients presenting with acute traumatic subdural hematoma and with presenting Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) ≤ 8 that had been operated in Lahore General Hospital between June 2014 and July 2015 was performed. The demographic data, preoperative GCS, type of surgical procedure performed and timing of surgery were analysed.
Forty (69%) patients underwent CO, and eighteen (31%) patients underwent DC. The CO and DC groups showed no difference in the demographic data and preoperative GCS. Six patients survived in the craniotomy group, while none survived in the decompressive craniectomy group (p=0.083). The relationship of timing of surgery with survival in the craniotomy group was found not to be clinically significant (p=0.87).
In this study craniotomy was associated with a better outcome as compared to decompressive craniectomy, however, the difference did not reach statistical significance. Early surgery was also found not to be associated with an improved outcome.

Impact of Delaying Surgery After Chemoradiation in Rectal Cancer: Outcomes From a Tertiary Cancer Centre in India

Delaying surgery after chemoradiation is one of the strategies for increasing tumor regression in rectal cancer. Tumour regression and PCR are known to have positive impact on survival.
It’s a retrospective study of 161 patients undergoing surgery after neoadjuvant chemoradiation (NCRT) for locally advanced rectal cancer (LARC). Patients were divided into three categories based on the gap between NCRT and surgery, i.e., 12 weeks. Tumor regression grades (TRG), sphincter preservation, post-operative morbidity-mortality and survival were evaluated.
Sphincter preservation was significantly less in >12 weeks group compared to the other two groups (P=0.003). Intraoperative blood loss was significantly higher in >12 weeks group compared to 8-12 weeks group (P=0.001).There was no difference in major postoperative morbidity and hospital stay among the groups. There was no significant correlation between delay and TRG (P=0.644). At Median follow up of 49.5 months the projected 3-year overall survival (OS) and disease free survival (DFS) were not significantly different among the 3 groups (OS: 79.5% vs. 83.3% vs. 76.5%; P=0.849 and DFS 50.4% vs. 70.6% vs. 62%; P=0.270 respectively).
Delaying surgery by more than 12 weeks causes more blood loss but no change in morbidity or hospital stay. Increased time interval between radiation and surgery does not improve tumor regression and has no effect on survival.

Ventriculoperitoneal shunt complication in pediatric hydrocephalus: Risk factor analysis from a single institution in Nepal

Ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt surgery is one of the commonly performed neurosurgical procedures. Complications due to shunt failure are associated with high morbidity and mortality. We report an analysis of risk factors for shunt failure in pediatric patients from a single institution in Nepal.
Materials and methods
A retrospective analytical study with prospective data was designed. All children younger than 15 years, with first time VP shunting, at a tertiary government hospital in Kathmandu during 2014-2017 were followed up. Association of independent variables with the primary outcome variable (complication of VP shunt) was analyzed using Chi-square test. Bivariate logistic regression was performed to identify unadjusted odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval (CI). Multivariate logistic regression model was designed to calculate adjusted OR with 95% CI.
Of 120 patients, more than half (55.8%) of the patients were male. Mean age was 62.97 months. Maximum duration of follow-up was 30 months. Most common cause of hydrocephalus was congenital aqueductal stenosis (40.8%) followed by tumors (29.2%). Overall shunt complication was found in 26.7% (95% CI 19.0%-35.5%). Shunt infection was seen in 5% while malfunction without infection was found in 21.7%. Bivariate logistic regression showed duration of surgery more than 1 h (OR 2.67, 95% CI 1.11-6.42, P = 0.028) compared to 1 h or less, experienced surgeon (OR 0.37, 95% CI 0.16-0.89, P = 0.026) compared to residents, and emergency surgery (OR 3.97, 95% CI 1.69-9.29, P = 0.001) compared to elective surgery as significant risk factors, while emergency surgery was the only significant variable for shunt failure on multivariate regression analysis (OR 3.3, 95% CI 1.16-9.35, P = 0.025).
Longer duration of surgery, less experience of the surgeon, and the priority of the case (emergency) were independent risk factors for shunt complications.

Emergency chest wall reconstruction in open pneumo-thorax from gunshot chest: A case report

Chest trauma, penetrating or blunt is common in this era of motor vehicle accidents, violence and terrorism in South Asia. Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan but there is no dedicated chest surgery unit in any government sector hospitals. Gunshot chest, is therefore managed by general surgery team in our tertiary care setting i.e. Federal Government Polyclinic Hospital and Post Graduate Medical Institute, Islamabad. We report a case of gunshot chest with lung contusion and open pneumothorax with a chest wall defect of 10 x 15 cm. in March 2015, this young man presented in emergency department of Federal Government Polyclinic Hospital (FGPC), Post Graduate Medical Institute (PGMI) Islamabad in shock after self-inflicted point blank suicidal gunshot to his left anterolateral chest. After primary resuscitation, the patient was shifted to OR, and a left anterolateral thoracotomy performed. Lung contusion was repaired and chest drain placed. The challenging task of closing the huge chest wall defect was performed by rotating the left latissimus dorsi muscle flap. The patient was shifted to ICU and remained stable postoperatively.

Female Gender Remains a Significant Barrier to Access Cataract Surgery in South Asia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Purpose. To determine whether the female gender is a barrier for the access to cataract surgery services in South Asia in the last two decades. Methods. Eligible cross-sectional studies were identified via computer searches and reviewing the reference lists of the obtained articles. The cataract surgical coverage (CSC) by sex based on person and eyes at visual acuity <3/60 and 6/18 is extracted. Pooled odds ratios (ORs) for males receiving cataract surgery in comparison with females were calculated by a random effect model. Results. Sixteen studies with 135972 subjects were included in the final analysis. The pooled ORs of CSC by sex on a person basis at visual acuity <3/60 and at visual acuity <6/18 were 1.46 (95% CI: 1.23–1.75) and 1.14 (95% CI: 1.05–1.24), respectively. For CSC on a per-eye basis at visual acuity <3/60, the associations were statistically significant, with a pooled OR of 1.40 (95% CI: 1.16–1.70). The values of population attributable risk percentage at a per-person and per-eye basis at visual acuity <3/60 were 6.28% and 7.48%, respectively. Subgroup analyses by design and location types attained similar results as the primary analyses. There was no evidence of publication bias. Conclusions. The female gender remains a significant barrier for the access to cataract surgery in South Asia. Visual impairment, including blindness, from unoperated cataract, could be reduced by approximately 6.28% with the elimination of gender disparities to access. More efforts are needed to increase eye care service utilization by female population.

Establishment of a road traffic trauma registry for northern Sri Lanka

Road traffic injuries are a neglected global public health problem. Over 1.25 million people are killed each year, and middle-income countries, which are motorising rapidly, are the hardest hit. Sri Lanka is dealing with an injury-related healthcare crisis, with a recent 85% increase in road traffic fatality rates. Road traffic crashes now account for 25 000 injuries annually and 10 deaths daily. Development of a trauma registry is the foundation for injury control, care and prevention. Five northern Sri Lankan provinces collaborated with Jaffna Teaching Hospital to develop a local electronic registry. The Centre for Clinical Excellence and Research was established to provide organisational leadership, hardware and software were purchased, and data collectors trained. Initial data collection was modified after implementation challenges were resolved. Between 1 June 2017 and 30 September 2017, 1708 injured patients were entered into the registry. Among these patients, 62% were male, 76% were aged 21–50, 71.3% were motorcyclists and 34% were in a collision with another motorcyclist. There were frequent collisions with uncontrolled livestock (12%) and with fixed objects (14%), and most patients were transported by private vehicles without prehospital care. Head (n=315) and lower extremity (n=497) injuries predominated. Establishment of a trauma registry in low-income and middle-income countries is a significant challenge and requires invested local leadership; the most challenging issue is ongoing funding. However, this pilot registry provides a valuable foundation, identifying unique injury mechanisms, establishing priorities for prevention and patient care, and introducing the concept of an organised system to this region.

Global health, global surgery and mass casualties: II. Mass casualty centre resources, equipment and implementation

Trauma/stroke centres optimise acute 24/7/365 surgical/critical care in high-income countries (HICs). Concepts from low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs) offer additional cost-effective healthcare strategies for limited-resource settings when combined with the trauma/stroke centre concept. Mass casualty centres (MCCs) integrate resources for both routine and emergency care—from prevention to acute care to rehabilitation. Integration of the various healthcare systems—governmental, non-governmental and military—is key to avoid both duplication and gaps. With input from LMIC and HIC personnel of various backgrounds—trauma and subspecialty surgery, nursing, information technology and telemedicine, and healthcare administration—creative solutions to the challenges of expanding care (both daily and disaster) are developed. MCCs are evolving initially in Chile and Pakistan. Technologies for cost-effective healthcare in LMICs include smartphone apps (enhance prehospital care) to electronic data collection and analysis (quality improvement) to telemedicine and drones/robots (support of remote regions and resource optimisation during both daily care and disasters) to resilient, mobile medical/surgical facilities (eg, battery-operated CT scanners). The co-ordination of personnel (within LMICs, and between LMICs and HICs) and the integration of cost-effective advanced technology are features of MCCs. Providing quality, cost-effective care 24/7/365 to the 5 billion who lack it presently makes MCCs an appealing means to achieve the healthcare-related United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.