Feasibility of delivering foot and ankle surgical courses in a partnership in Eastern, Central and Sothern Africa

Foot and ankle pathology if not treated appropriately and in a timely manner can adversely affect both disability and quality adjusted life years. More so in the low- and middle-income countries where ambulation is the predominant means of getting around for the majority of the population in order to earn a livelihood. This has necessitated the equipping of the new generation of orthopaedic surgeons with the expertise and skills set to manage these conditions. To address this need, surgeons from the British Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (BOFAS) and College of Surgeons of Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA) transferred the “Principles of Foot and Ankle Surgery” course to an African regional setting. The course was offered to surgical trainees from 14-member countries of the COSECSA region and previously in the UK. The faculty was drawn from practicing surgeons experienced in both surgical education and foot and ankle surgery. The course comprises didactic lectures, case-based discussions in small groups, patient evaluations and guided surgical dissections on human cadavers. It was offered free to all participants. The feasibility of the course was evaluated using the model defined by Bowen considering the eight facets of acceptability, demand, implementation, practicality, adaptation, integration, expansion and limited efficacy. At the end of the course participants were expected to give verbal subjective feedback and objective feedback using a cloud based digital feedback questionnaire. The course content was evaluated by the participants as “Poor”, “Below average”, “Average”, “Good” and “Excellent”, which was converted into a value from 1–5 for analysis. The non-parametric categorical data was analysed using the Two-sample Wilcoxon rank-sum (Mann–Whitney) test, and significance was considered to be p < 0.05.

Management of Soft-Tissue Coverage of Open Tibia Fractures in Latin America: Techniques, Timing, and Resources

This study examined soft-tissue coverage techniques of open tibia fractures, described soft-tissue treatment patterns across income groups, and determined resource accessibility and availability in Latin America.

A 36-question survey was distributed to orthopaedic surgeons in Latin America through two networks: national orthopaedic societies and the Asociación de Cirujanos Traumatólogos de las Américas (ACTUAR). Demographic information was collected, and responses were stratified by income groups: high-income countries (HICs) and middle-income countries (MICs).

The survey was completed by 469 orthopaedic surgeons, representing 19 countries in Latin America (2 HICs and 17 MICs). Most respondents were male (89%), completed residency training (96%), and were fellowship-trained (71%). Only 44% of the respondents had received soft-tissue training. Respondents (77%) reported a strong interest in attending a soft-tissue training course. Plastic surgeons were more commonly the primary providers for Gustilo Anderson (GA) Type IIIB injuries in HICs than in MICs (100% vs. 47%, p<0.01) and plastic surgeons were more available (<24 hours of patient presentation to the hospital) in HICs than MICs (63% vs. 26%, p=0.05), demonstrating statistically significant differences. In addition, respondents in HICs performed free flaps more commonly than in MICs for proximal third (55% vs. 18%, p<0.01), middle third (36% vs. 9%, p=0.02), and distal third (55% vs. 10%, p<0.01) lower extremity wounds. Negative Pressure Wound Therapy (NPWT or Wound VAC) was the only resource available to more than half of the respondents. Though not statistically significant, surgeons reported having more access to plastic surgeons at their institutions in HICs than MICs (91% vs. 62%, p=0.12) and performed microsurgical flaps more commonly at their respective institutions (73% vs. 42%, p=0.06).

The study demonstrated that most orthopaedic surgeons in Latin America have received no soft-tissue training; that HICs and MICs have different access to plastic surgeons and different expectations for flap type and definitive coverage timing; and that most respondents had limited access to necessary soft-tissue coverage surgical resources. Further investigation into differences in the clinical outcomes related to soft-tissue coverage methods and protocols can provide additional insight into the importance of timing and access to specialists.

International Orthopaedic Volunteer Opportunities in Low and Middle-Income Countries

Globally, the burden of musculoskeletal conditions continues to rise, disproportionately affecting low and middle-income countries (LMICs). The ability to meet these orthopaedic surgical care demands remains a challenge. To help address these issues, many orthopaedic surgeons seek opportunities to provide humanitarian assistance to the populations in need. While many global orthopaedic initiatives are well-intentioned and can offer short-term benefits to the local communities, it is essential to emphasize training and the integration of local surgeon-leaders. The commitment to developing educational and investigative capacity, as well as fostering sustainable, mutually beneficial partnerships in low-resource settings, is critical. To this end, global health organizations, such as the Consortium of Orthopaedic Academic Traumatologists (COACT), work to promote and ensure the lasting sustainability of musculoskeletal trauma care worldwide. This article describes global orthopaedic efforts that can effectively address musculoskeletal care through an examination of 5 domains: clinical care, clinical research, surgical education, disaster response, and advocacy.

The Health Determinants of Accessibility to Clubfoot Treatment in LMICs: A Global Exploration of Barriers and Solutions

Background: Clubfoot or Congenital Talipes Equinovarus (CTEV) treatment in newborn infants involves simple, non-invasive manipulation and is primarily managed non-surgically if identified early. In low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), less than 15% of patients with CTEV access treatment. This cross-sectional questionnaire study conducted descriptive and regression analysis of institutional reasons for CTEV management in LMICs.

Methods: A cross-sectional study was undertaken of 1,489 medical institutions in 62 LMICs. Data were evaluated from the “World Health Organization Situation Analysis tool” database. We analyzed characteristics of institutions that manage and did not manage CTEV. With the use of a multivariate linear regression model, we identified a set of factors linked to referral for non-management of CTEV.

Results: A total of 72.7% (1,083/1,395) of institutions surveyed did not manage CTEV. The most common reason cited for not managing CTEV was a lack of sufficient skills, 92.1% (668/725, P<0.001). A total of 39.4% (286/725) of institutions also cited a lack of functioning equipment as a reason. Multivariate linear regression analysis showed lack of training, lack of supplies, and lack of functioning equipment were most closely related to non-management of CTEV.

Conclusion and Global Health Implications: We identified that failure to manage CTEV may result from a lack of skills and medical equipment. Increasing the capacity of sustainable training programs may reduce the presently available skill deficit in treating CTEV in LMICs and provide improved health outcomes for those with CTEV. While considerable progress has been made in building capacity for the treatment and management of CTEV in LMICs, structured training programs that support conservative manipulative methods to manage CTEV should be initiated globally

The prevalence and risk factors of chronic low back pain among adults in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: an observational cross-sectional hospital-based study

Globally, chronic low back pain (CLBP) is the leading cause of disability associated with economic costs. However, it has received little attention in low-and-middle-income countries. This study estimated the prevalence and risk factors of CLBP among adults presenting at selected hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

This cross-sectional study was conducted among adults aged ≥18 years who attended the selected hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal during the study period. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data on socio-demographic, work-related factors, and information about CLBP. The SPSS version 24.0 (IBM SPSS Inc) was used for data analysis. Descriptive statistics were used for demographic characteristics of participants. CLBP risk factors were assessed using multivariate logistic regression analysis. A p-value of ≤0.05 was deemed statistically significant.

A total of 678 adults participated in this study. The overall prevalence of CLBP was 18.1% (95% CI: 15.3 – 21.3) with females having a higher prevalence than males, 19.8% (95% CI: 16.0 – 24.1) and 15.85% (95% CI: 11.8 – 20.6), respectively. Using multivariate regression analysis, the following risk factors were identified: overweight (aOR: 3.7, 95% CI: 1.1 – 12.3, p = 0.032), no formal education (aOR: 6.1, 95% CI: 2.1 – 18.1, p = 0.001), lack of regular physical exercises (aOR: 2.2, 95% CI: 1.0 – 4.8, p = 0.044), smoking 1 to 10 (aOR: 4.5, 95% CI: 2.0 – 10.2, p < 0.001) and more than 11 cigarettes per day (aOR: 25.3, 95% CI: 10.4 – 61.2, p < 0.001), occasional and frequent consumption of alcohol, aOR: 2.5, 95% CI: 1.1 – 5.9, p < 0.001 and aOR: 11.3, 95% CI: 4.9 – 25.8, p < 0.001, respectively, a sedentary lifestyle (aOR: 31.8, 95% CI: 11.2 – 90.2, p < 0.001), manual work (aOR: 26.2, 95% CI: 10.1 – 68.4, p < 0.001) and a stooped sitting posture (aOR: 6.0, 95% CI: 2.0 – 17.6, p = 0.001).

This study concluded that the prevalence of CLBP in KwaZulu-Natal is higher than in other regions, and that it is predicted by a lack of formal education, overweight, lack of regular physical exercises, smoking, alcohol consumption, sedentary lifestyle, manual work, and a stooped posture.

Leadership development for orthopaedic trauma surgeons in Latin America: opportunities for and barriers to skill acquisition

There is growing interest in leadership courses for physicians. Few opportunities are available in global regions with limited resources. This study describes orthopaedic trauma surgeons’ desired leadership skill acquisition, opportunities, and barriers to course participation in Latin America.

Latin American orthopaedic trauma surgeons from the Asociación de Cirujanos Traumatólogos de las Americas (ACTUAR) network were surveyed. This survey solicited and gauged the surgeons’ level of interest in leadership topics and their relative importance utilizing a 5-point Likert-scale. Additionally, comparisons were calculated between middle-income countries (MICs) and high-income countries (HICs) to ascertain if needs were different between groups. The survey included demographic information, nationality, level of training, years in practice, leadership position, needs assessment, and perceived barriers for leadership educational opportunities.

One hundred forty-four orthopaedic surgeons completed the survey, representing 18 countries across Latin America; 15 MICs and 3 HICs. Participants had more than 20 years in practice (49%) and held leadership positions (81%) in hospital settings (62%), national orthopaedic societies (45%), and/or clinical settings (40%). Sixty-three percent had never attended a leadership course due to lack of opportunities/invitations (69%), difficulty missing work (24%), and costs (21%). Ninety-seven percent expressed interest in attending a leadership course. No difference in needs was determined between respondents from MICs and HICs. Professional Ethics, Crisis Management/Organizational Change Management, and High Performing Team-Building were identified as the most important leadership topics.

Orthopaedic surgeons in Latin America demonstrate an interest in acquiring additional leadership skills but have few opportunities. Identifying interests, knowledge gaps, and core competencies can guide the development of such opportunities.

Cervical Spine Trauma in East Africa: Presentation, Treatment, and Mortality

Background Cervical spine trauma (CST) leads to devastating neurologic injuries. In a cohort of CST patients from a major East Africa referral center, we sought to (a) describe presentation and operative treatment patterns, (b) report predictors of neurologic improvement, and (c) assess predictors of mortality.

Methods A retrospective, cohort study of CST patients presenting to a tertiary hospital in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, was performed. Demographic, injury, and operative data were collected. Neurologic exam on admission/discharge and in-hospital mortality were recorded. Univariate/multivariate logistic regression assessed predictors of operative treatment, neurologic improvement, and mortality.

Results Of 101 patients with CST, 25 (24.8%) were treated operatively on a median postadmission day 16.0 (7.0–25.0). Twenty-six patients (25.7%) died, with 3 (12.0%) in the operative cohort and 23 (30.3%) in the nonoperative cohort. The most common fracture pattern was bilateral facet dislocation (26.7%). Posterior cervical laminectomy and fusion and anterior cervical corpectomy were the 2 most common procedures. Undergoing surgery was associated with an injury at the C4–C7 region versus occiput–C3 region (odds ratio [OR] 6.36, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.71–32.28, P = .011) and an incomplete injury (OR 3.64; 95% CI 1.19–12.25; P = .029). Twelve patients (15.8%) improved neurologically, out of the 76 total patients with a recorded discharge exam. Having a complete injury was associated with increased odds of mortality (OR 11.75, 95% CI 3.29–54.72, P < .001), and longer time from injury to admission was associated with decreased odds of mortality (OR 0.66, 95% CI 0.48–0.85, P = .006). Conclusions Those most likely to undergo surgery had C4–C7 injuries and incomplete spinal cord injuries. The odds of mortality increased with complete spinal cord injuries and shorter time from injury to admission, probably due to more severely injured patients dying early within 24–48 hours of injury. Thus, patients living long enough to present to the hospital may represent a self-selecting population of more stable patients. These results underscore the severity and uniqueness of CST in a less-resourced setting.

Protocol for a prospective cohort study of open tibia fractures in Malawi with a nested implementation of open fracture guidelines

Background: Road traffic injury (RTI) is the largest cause of death amongst 15–39-year-old people worldwide, and the burden of injuries such as open tibia fractures are rapidly increasing in Malawi. This study aims to investigate disability and economic outcomes of people with open tibia fractures in Malawi and improve these with locally delivered implementation of open fracture guidelines.
Methods: This is a prospective cohort study describing function, quality of life and economic burden of open tibia fractures in Malawi. In total, 160 participants will be recruited across six centres and will be followed-up with face-to-face interviews at six weeks, three months, six months and one year following injury. The primary outcome will be function at one year measured by the short musculoskeletal functional assessment (SMFA) score. Secondary outcomes will include quality of life measured by EuroQol EQ-5D-3L, catastrophic loss of income and implementation outcomes (acceptability, adoption, appropriateness, costs, feasibility, fidelity, penetration, and sustainability) at one year. A nested pilot pre-post implementation study of an interventional bundle for all open fractures will be developed based on other implementation studies from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Regression analysis will be used to model and investigate associations between SMFA score and fracture severity, infection and the pre- and post-training course period.
Outcome: This prospective cohort study will report patient reported outcomes from open tibia fractures in low-resource settings. Subsequent detailed evaluation of both the clinical and implementation components of the study will promote sustainability of improved open fractures management in the study sites and further scale-up of open fracture management guidelines.
Ethics: Ethics approval has been obtained from the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and College of Medicine Research and Ethics committee.

Functional assessment of long bone fracture healing in Samburu County Referral Hospital (Kenya): the squat and smile challenge

The burden of musculoskeletal trauma is increasing in low- and middle-income countries. Due to the low clinical follow-up rates in these regions, the Squat-and-Smile test (S&S) has previously been proposed as a proxy to assess bone healing (BH) capacity after surgery involving bone fractures. This study deals with various aspects of using S&S and bone radiography examination to obtain information about an individual’s ability to recover after a trauma. In summary, we performed the S&S test to assess the possibility of recovering biomechanical function in lower limbs in a remote area of Kenya (Samburu County).

Eighty-nine patients (17.9% F; 31.7 ± 18.9 yrs) who underwent intramedullary nail treatment for femur or tibia fractures were enrolled in this study. Both S&S [evaluated by a goal attainment scale (GAS)] and x-ray (evaluated by REBORNE, Bone Healing Score) were performed at 6 and 24 weeks, postoperatively. An acceptable margin for satisfactory S&S GAS scores was determined by assessing its validity, reliability, and sensitivity.

S&S GAS scores increased over time: 80.2% of patients performed a satisfactory S&S at the 24-weeks follow-up with a complete BH. A high correlation between S&S GAS and REBORNE at the 6- and 24- weeks’ timepoint was found. Facial expression correlated partially with BH. The S&S proved to be accurate at correctly depicting the BH process (75% area fell under the Receiver Operator Curve).

The S&S provides a possible substitution for bone x-ray during BH assessment. The potential to remotely follow up the BH is certainly appealing in low- and middle-income countries, but also in high-income countries; as was recently observed with the Covid-19 pandemic when access to a hospital is not conceivable.

Road Traffic Injuries in Malawi with special focus on the role of alcohol

Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the principal causes of road traffic crashes (RTCs) [1]. The use of alcohol is also a risk factor for other road users, such as pedestrians and bicyclists. The association of alcohol in injurious and fatal RTCs has been well documented in most high-income countries, but data for low- and middle-income countries is scarce, particularly for African countries [2]. The study was a collaborative effort between Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH) and Oslo University Hospital (OUH), with the financial support of UK Aid through the Global Road Safety Facility (GRSF) hosted by the World Bank, the International Council on Alcohol Drugs and Traffic Safety (ICADTS) and the Norwegian Council for Road Safety (Trygg Trafikk). The objective of the study was to generate new knowledge about road traffic injuries in Malawi and the extent of traffic accidents related to alcohol use, to increase capacity to conduct alcohol testing, and develop a database for the findings, which in turn will form the basis for future policymaking to reduce traffic accidents.
The objectives were achieved through collecting data on patients who sought treatment after road traffic crashes and admitted to the Emergency Department at KCH in Lilongwe, Malawi. A questionnaire was developed for data collection in cooperation between the project groups in Norway and Malawi. The data included basic information about the patients, alcohol use before the injury, and information about accident circumstances, including types of road users and vehicles involved. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. All weekdays, weekends and nights were covered. Alcohol was measured using a breathalyzer or saliva test for those who were not able to blow. Knowledge and training of local KCH employees to perform alcohol testing and record data were an important aspect of this study.
The project was approved by the National Health Science Research Committee (NHSRC) in Malawi. The Regional Committee for Medical and Health Research Ethics in Norway was consulted, and their conclusion was that no formal application was needed, with reference to the Norwegian Health Research Act Section, §2 and 4a. A Data Protection Impact Assessment was performed as required by NIPH. There were 1251 patients in the study, representing nearly 95 per cent of those who were asked to participate. The results show a rather high prevalence of alcohol use among several injured road user groups (totally about 25 percent), particularly among those injured during weekend nights and evenings, but also during weekday evenings and nights. It was estimated that about 15 per cent of injured motor vehicle drivers and riders had BACs above the legal limit of 0.8 grams/L at the time of the crash. The findings also show that it is important to focus on bus/minibus/lorry drivers who often carry passengers, where about one out of five tested positive for alcohol. It is worth noting that pedestrians had the highest prevalence of alcohol use before being injured. They constitute a vulnerable group; they often walk in the dark with no road lighting, no pavements, walkways or safe places to cross
the road. Combined with alcohol use their injury risk is even higher. The collected data can contribute to future road traffic safety procedures and measures. The long-term goal is to contribute to sustainable development goal 3, target 3.6, to reduce by half the number of global RTC deaths and injuries. Road Traffic Inuries in Malawi • Norwegian Institute of Public Health This study shows the importance of collecting adequate and relevant data for health authorities particularly in low- and middle-income countries in battling the challenge of alcohol-related road traffic crashes, deaths and injuries. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a
number of recommendations were presented to Malawian authorities at a virtual seminar held in autumn 2020.