User Experience With Low-Cost Virtual Reality Cancer Surgery Simulation in an African Setting

Limited access to adequate cancer surgery training is one of the driving forces behind global inequities in surgical cancer care. Affordable virtual reality (VR) surgical training could enhance surgical skills in low- and middle-income settings, but most VR and augmented reality systems are too expensive and do not teach open surgical techniques commonly practiced in these contexts. New low-cost VR can offer skill development simulations relevant to these settings, but little is known about how knowledge is gained and applied by surgeons training and working in specific resource-constrained settings. This study addresses this gap, exploring gynecologic oncology trainee learning and user experience using a low-cost VR simulator to learn to perform an open radical abdominal hysterectomy in Lusaka, Zambia.

Eleven surgical trainees rotating through the gynecologic oncology service were sequentially recruited from the University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka to participate in a study evaluating a VR radical abdominal hysterectomy training designed to replicate the experience in a Zambian hospital. Six participated in semi-structured interviews following the training. Interviews were analyzed using open and axial coding, informed by grounded theory.

Simulator participation increased participants’ perception of their surgical knowledge, confidence, and skills. Participants believed their skills transferred to other related surgical procedures. Having clear goals and motivation to improve were described as factors that influenced success.

For cancer surgery trainees in lower-resourced settings learning medical and surgical skills, even for those with limited VR experience, low-cost VR simulators may enhance anatomical knowledge and confidence. The VR simulator reinforced anatomical and clinical knowledge acquired through other modalities. VR-enhanced learning may be particularly valuable when mentored learning opportunities are limited.

Development of an Interactive Global Surgery Course for Interdisciplinary Learners

Introduction: Global surgical care is increasingly recognized in the global health agenda and requires multidisciplinary engagement. Despite high interest among medical students, residents and other learners, many surgical faculty and health experts remain uniformed about global surgical care.

Methods: We have operated an interdisciplinary graduate-level course in Global Surgical Care based on didactics and interactive group learning. Students completed a pre- and post-course survey regarding their learning experiences and results were analyzed using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.

Results: Fourteen students completed the pre-course survey, and 11 completed the post-course survey. Eleven students (79%) were enrolled in a Master’s degree program in global health, with eight students (57%) planning to attend medical school. The median ranking of surgery on the global health agenda was fifth at the beginning of the course and third at the conclusion (p = 0.11). Non-infectious disease priorities tended to stay the same or increase in rank from pre- to post-course. Infectious disease priorities tended to decrease in rank (HIV/AIDS, p = 0.07; malaria, p = 0.02; neglected infectious disease, p = 0.3). Students reported that their understanding of global health (p = 0.03), global surgery (p = 0.001) and challenges faced by the underserved (p = 0.03) improved during the course. When asked if surgery was an indispensable part of healthcare, before the course 64% of students strongly agreed, while after the course 91% of students strongly agreed (p = 0.3). Students reported that the interactive nature of the course strengthened their skills in collaborative problem-solving.

Conclusions: We describe an interdisciplinary global surgery course that integrates didactics with team-based projects. Students appeared to learn core topics and held a different view of global surgery after the course. Similar courses in global surgery can educate clinicians and other stakeholders about strategies for building healthy surgical systems worldwide.

Timing of surgery following SARS‐CoV‐2 infection: an international prospective cohort study

Peri‐operative SARS‐CoV‐2 infection increases postoperative mortality. The aim of this study was to determine the optimal duration of planned delay before surgery in patients who have had SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. This international, multicentre, prospective cohort study included patients undergoing elective or emergency surgery during October 2020. Surgical patients with pre‐operative SARS‐CoV‐2 infection were compared with those without previous SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. The primary outcome measure was 30‐day postoperative mortality. Logistic regression models were used to calculate adjusted 30‐day mortality rates stratified by time from diagnosis of SARS‐CoV‐2 infection to surgery. Among 140,231 patients (116 countries), 3127 patients (2.2%) had a pre‐operative SARS‐CoV‐2 diagnosis. Adjusted 30‐day mortality in patients without SARS‐CoV‐2 infection was 1.5% (95%CI 1.4–1.5). In patients with a pre‐operative SARS‐CoV‐2 diagnosis, mortality was increased in patients having surgery within 0–2 weeks, 3–4 weeks and 5–6 weeks of the diagnosis (odds ratio (95%CI) 4.1 (3.3–4.8), 3.9 (2.6–5.1) and 3.6 (2.0–5.2), respectively). Surgery performed ≥ 7 weeks after SARS‐CoV‐2 diagnosis was associated with a similar mortality risk to baseline (odds ratio (95%CI) 1.5 (0.9–2.1)). After a ≥ 7 week delay in undertaking surgery following SARS‐CoV‐2 infection, patients with ongoing symptoms had a higher mortality than patients whose symptoms had resolved or who had been asymptomatic (6.0% (95%CI 3.2–8.7) vs. 2.4% (95%CI 1.4–3.4) vs. 1.3% (95%CI 0.6–2.0), respectively). Where possible, surgery should be delayed for at least 7 weeks following SARS‐CoV‐2 infection. Patients with ongoing symptoms ≥ 7 weeks from diagnosis may benefit from further delay

Telementoring, Surgery training, Rural surgery, Breast cancer

Telementorship allows an expert surgeon to mentor another surgeon through an advanced procedure from a remote location via 2-way audio-visual communication. The current article was planned to review the existing literature and evaluate the utility of telementorship regarding educating rural surgeons in Pakistan about multidisciplinary breast cancer care. Publications from 2016 to 2020 were searched on PubMed and GoogleScholar and 10 most recent publications were selected. Review of literature revealed that even though telementorship in this context might be comparable to onsite mentorship, multiple concerns need to be addressed before its implementation. These include lack of concrete evidence regarding its effectiveness, legal, security and financial issues. Thus, a pilot project evaluating the efficacy of telementorship needs to be conducted for rural breast surgeons working in Pakistan. If these studies show promise and an affordable, convenient and effective method of telementorship is devised, then it may become the future of breast surgery training in far-flung regions of Pakistan.

Peer-led surgery education: A model for a surgery interest group

We present a systematic, sustainable, student-led model for a Surgery Interest Group in a low and middle-income country setting to encourage other medical students to establish similar groups in their institutions. Our model was developed at the Aga Khan University Medical College, Karachi, and is comprised of medical students, teaching associates, residents, faculty and alumni. The group focuses on connecting medical students with an interest in surgery with opportunities to help them match in surgery training programs. The opportunities include, but are not limited to, skill development, personal development, mentorship and research. Our model has shown growth and expansion over the last four years, and can be successfully replicated in medical colleges across similar settings.

The Preparing Residents for International Medical Experiences (PRIME) Simulation Workshop: Equipping Surgery and Anesthesia Trainees for International Rotations

Introduction: Although global health training expands clinical and sociocultural expertise for graduate medical trainees and is increasingly in demand, evidence-based courses are limited. To improve self-assessed competence for clinical scenarios encountered during international rotations, we developed and assessed a simulation-based workshop called Preparing Residents for International Medical Experiences. Methods: High-fidelity simulation activities for anesthesiology, surgery, and OB/GYN trainees involved three scenarios. The first was a mass casualty in a low-resource setting requiring distribution of human and material resources. In the second, learners managed a septic operative patient and coordinated postoperative care without an ICU bed available. The final scenario had learners evaluate a non-English-speaking patient with pre-eclampsia. We paired simulation with small-group discussion to address socio-behavioural factors, stress, and teaching skills. Participants evaluated the quality of the teaching provided. In addition, we measured anesthesiology trainees’ self-assessed competence before and after the workshop. Results: The workshop included 23 learners over two iterations. Fifteen trainees (65%) completed the course evaluation, 93% of whom strongly agreed that the training met the stated objectives. Thirteen out of 15 (87%) anesthesiology trainees completed the competence survey. After the training, more trainees indicated confidence in providing clinical care with indirect supervision or independently. Mean self-assessed competency scores on a scale of 1–5 increased for all areas, with a mean competency increase of 0.3 (95% CI, 0.2–0.5). Discussion: Including simulation in a pretravel workshop can improve trainees’ self-assessed competence for a variety of scenarios involving clinical care in limited-resource settings

Surgical residents’ opinions on international surgical residency in Flanders, Belgium

International electives benefit training of medical residents due to exposure to an increased scope of pathologies, improved physical examination skills, communication across cultural boundaries and more efficient resource utilization. Currently there is no mechanism for Belgian surgical residents to participate in international training opportunities and little research has addressed the international mobility of Belgian residents. The goal of this study was to examine the attitudes of Belgian residents towards international training among surgical residents.

An anonymous, structured electronic questionnaire was sent to a cohort of Belgian residents, including surgical residents, by e-mail and social media.

In total, 342 respondents filled out the questionnaire out of a total of 5906 Belgian residents. The results showed that 334 of the residents came from Flanders (10.8%) and 8 came from French-speaking Brussels and Wallonia (0.28%). Surgical specialties represented 46% of respondents and included surgical, obstetric and anaesthesiology residents. The majority (98%) were interested in an international rotation, both in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) and in high-income countries. A total of 84% were willing to conduct an international rotation during holidays and 91% would participate even when their international stay would not be recognised as part of their residency training. A minority (38%) had undertaken an international rotation in the past and, of those, 5% went to an LMIC.

The majority of surgical residents consider an international rotation as educationally beneficial, even though they are rarely undertaken. Our survey shows that in order to facilitate foreign rotations, Flemish universities and governmental institutions will have to alleviate the regulatory, logistical and financial constraints.

Regional anesthesia educational material utilization varies by World Bank income category: A mobile health application data study

Regional anesthesia offers an alternative to general anesthesia and may be advantageous in low resource environments. There is a paucity of data regarding the practice of regional anesthesia in low- and middle-income countries. Using access data from a free Android app with curated regional anesthesia learning modules, we aimed to estimate global interest in regional anesthesia and potential applications to clinical practice stratified by World Bank income level.

We retrospectively analyzed data collected from the free Android app “Anesthesiologist” from December 2015 to April 2020. The app performs basic anesthetic calculations and provides links to videos on performing 12 different nerve blocks. Users of the app were classified on the basis of whether or not they had accessed the links. Nerve blocks were also classified according to major use (surgical block, postoperative pain adjunct, rescue block).

Practitioners in low- and middle-income countries accessed the app more frequently than in high-income countries as measured by clicks. Users from low- and middle-income countries focused mainly on surgical blocks: ankle, axillary, infraclavicular, interscalene, and supraclavicular blocks. In high-income countries, more users viewed postoperative pain blocks: adductor canal, popliteal, femoral, and transverse abdominis plane blocks. Utilization of the app was constant over time with a general decline with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The use of an in app survey and analytics can help identify gaps and opportunities for regional anesthesia techniques and practices. This is especially impactful in limited-resource areas, such as lower-income environments and can lead to targeted educational initiatives.

Perception and Attitude of Surgical Trainees in Nigeria to Trauma Care

Background. Trauma is still the leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 1 and 44 years. Establishment of good trauma centres and systems has been shown to have a significant positive impact on outcomes. Surgical specialties, particularly trauma, are becoming less attractive in different parts of the world for a variety of reasons. Aim.  The aim of this study is to ascertain the perception and attitude of future surgeons towards trauma care in Nigeria. Materials and methods. This is a cross-sectional study using a pretested, structured, paper-based questionnaire which was administered to consecutive surgical trainees at the annual revision course of West African College of Surgeons. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 12, and results are presented in tables and figures. Results. One hundred and fifty-seven questionnaires were adequately completed with a male-to-female ratio of 18 : 1 and median age of 30 years. There is a general agreement among the respondents that trauma incidence in Nigeria is high or very high. While about 70% of the respondents believe that the Nigerian trauma system is poorly planned, about 19% think it is nonexistent. 81 (53.7%) agree or strongly agree that managing trauma patients is too stressful. A good number, 116 (74.4%), strongly agree that having a separate dedicated trauma unit will improve care and outcome. While 82% of the surgical trainees support post fellowship training in trauma, only 62.2% will like to have the training. There is no significant difference between the proportion of males and females who would like to have the training. Conclusion. Surgical trainees in Nigeria have good perception and positive attitude towards trauma care. Primary prevention measures must be emphasized during surgical trainees’ training in trauma.