Choices for operative management of fractures in a developing country.

Aims: Operative management of fractures has changed significantly in the 21st century with the introduction of simple but effective devices and procedures to improve fracture care and healing outcomes. This study describes the commonest fractures treated surgically, type of fractures and operative fixation methods used for patients seeking orthopaedic services in two hospitals in Ghana.

Methods: Review of all patients who have had operative fracture fixation at the Cape Coast Teaching Hospital and St. Joseph Orthopaedic Hospital between January 2016 to December 2018. Operation records of 1,168 were reviewed for their age, gender, fractured bone, type of fracture, operative fixation method and devices used for fixation.

Results: A total of 1,168 fractured patients were treated operatively irrespective of age in the 3 year period reviewed. Males (817)compared to females (351) in a ratio of 2.3:1. The 21 – 40 year age group had the highest number of fractures (50% of femur fractures, 52% of tibial and 56% of forearm fractures) managed operatively. Plate osteosynthesis was found to be the most preferred method of fixation for the major long bones; femur 360(66 %), Humerus 69(78% ), radius and ulna 81(78%).

Conclusion: Fractures of the femur and tibial shafts represent an overwhelming majority of operatively managed long bone fractures. Plating as opposed to the gold standard of intramedullary nailing was the most commonly employed fixation method for femur and tibial fractures, so scarce resources should be channelled towards acquiring the requisite instrumentation and skill set for the fixation of these fractures.

Barriers and facilitators of research in Cameroon (Part II) – an e-survey of medical students

Introduction: research fosters critical thinking and prepares students for a career in academic medicine. This study aimed to identify the facilitators and barriers to research among Cameroonian medical students.

Methods: an electronic survey was distributed between May 23, 2020, and June 07, 2020. The survey was made of closed-, opened-, and Likert scale questions. A Preference Score (PS) was used to quantify the medical students’ perception of barriers and facilitators to research. The Kruskal-Wallis H and Fisher’s Exact tests were used to evaluate bivariate relationships

Results: one hundred and eighty-eight (188) students with a mean age of 24.1 ± 2.3 years were enrolled. Most respondents were male (56.9%), francophone (69.1%), and in their final year of medical school (46.8%). Twenty-one students (11.1%) had a peer-reviewed article, and all the published students were in their sixth- or seventh-year of undergraduate medical studies. Barriers to research included lack of funding (PS=203), obsolete patient information management systems (PS=198), and limited understanding of biostatistics (PS=197). Facilitators to research included research focused on the student’s interests (PS=255), the study’s capacity to improve practice (PS=247), and scientific recognition (PS=198).
Conclusion: barriers to research among Cameroonian medical students are mainly institutional. However, facilitators are primarily linked to career goals. To improve research activities among these undergraduates, initiatives must target institutional barriers and incentives that foster career development.

Establishing a Sustainable Training Program for Laparoscopy in Resource-Limited Settings: Experience in Ghana

Healthcare equipment funded by international partners is often not properly utilized in many developing countries due to low levels of awareness and a lack of expertise. A long-term on-site training program for laparoscopic surgery was established at a regional hospital in Ghana upon request of the Ghana Health Service and local surgeons.

The authors report the initial 32-month experience of implementing laparoscopic surgery focusing on the trainees’ response, technical independence, and factors associated with the successful implementation of a “new” surgical practice.

Curricular structure and feedback results of the trainings for doctors and nurses, and characteristics of laparoscopic procedures performed at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital between January 2017 and September 2019 were retrospectively reviewed.

Comprehensive training including two weeks of simulation workshops followed by animal labs were regularly provided for the doctors. Among the 97 trainees, 27.9% had prior exposure in laparoscopic surgery, 95% were satisfied with the program. Eleven nurses attained professional competency over 15 training sessions where none had prior exposure to laparoscopic surgery. Since the first laparoscopic cholecystectomy in February 2017, 82 laparoscopic procedures were performed. The scope of the surgery was expanded from general surgery (n = 46) to gynecology (n = 33), pediatric surgery (n = 2), and urology (n = 1). The volume of local doctors as primary operators increased from 0% (0/17, February to December 2017) to 41.9% (13/31, January to October 2018) and 79.4% (27/34, November 2018 to September 2019), with 72.5% of the cases being assisted by the expatriate surgeon. There were no open conversions, technical complications, or mortalities. Local doctors independently commenced endoscopic surgical procedures including cystoscopies, hysteroscopies, endoscopic neurosurgeries and arthroscopies.

Sensitization and motivation of the surgical workforce through long-term continuous on-site training resulted in the successful implementation of laparoscopic surgery with a high level of technical independence.

Implementing oncology clinical trials in Nigeria: a model for capacity building

Background: There is both higher mortality and morbidity from cancer in low and medium income countries (LMICs) compared with high income countries (HICs). Clinical trial activities and development of more effective and less toxic therapies have led to significant improvements in morbidity and mortality from cancer in HICs. Unfortunately, clinical trials remain low in LMICs due to poor infrastructure and paucity of experienced personnel to execute clinical trials. There is an urgent need to build local capacity for evidence-based treatment for cancer patients in LMICs.

Methods: We conducted a survey at facilities in four Teaching Hospitals in South West Nigeria using a checklist of information on various aspects of clinical trial activities. The gaps identified were addressed using resources sourced in partnership with investigators at HIC institutions.

Results: Deficits in infrastructure were in areas of patient care such as availability of oncology pharmacists, standard laboratories and diagnostic facilities, clinical equipment maintenance and regular calibrations, trained personnel for clinical trial activities, investigational products handling and disposals and lack of standard operating procedures for clinical activities. There were two GCP trained personnel, two study coordinators and one research pharmacist across the four sites. Interventions were instituted to address the observed deficits in all four sites which are now well positioned to undertake clinical trials in oncology. Training on all aspects of clinical trial was also provided.

Conclusions: Partnerships with institutions in HICs can successfully identify, address, and improve deficits in infrastructure for clinical trial in LMICs. The HICs should lead in providing funds, mentorship, and training for LMIC institutions to improve and expand clinical trials in LMIC countries.

Postoperative Pulmonary Complications in Complex Pediatric and Adult Spine Deformity: A Retrospective Review of Consecutive Patients Treated at a Single Site in West Africa

Study Design:
Retrospective review of consecutive series.

This study sought to assess the incidence, risk factors, and outcomes of pulmonary complication following complex spine deformity surgery in a low-resourced setting in West Africa.

Data of 276 complex spine deformity patients aged 3 to 25 years who were treated consecutively was retrospectively reviewed. Patients were categorized into 2 groups during data analysis based on pulmonary complication status: group 1: yes versus group 2: no. Comparative descriptive and inferential analysis were performed to compare the 2 groups.

The incidence of pulmonary complication was 17/276 (6.1%) in group 1. A total of 259 patients had no events (group 2). There were 8 males and 9 females in group 1 versus 100 males and 159 females in group 2. Body mass index was similar in both groups (17.2 vs 18.4 kg/m2, P = .15). Average values (group 1 vs group 2, respectively) were as follows: preoperative sagittal Cobb angle (90.6° vs 88.7°, P = .87.), coronal Cobb angle (95° vs 88.5°, P = .43), preoperative forced vital capacity (45.3% vs 62.0%, P = .02), preoperative FEV1 (forced expiratory volume in 1 second) (41.9% vs 63.1%, P < .001). Estimated blood loss, operating room time, and surgery levels were similar in both groups. Thoracoplasty and spinal osteotomies were performed at similar rates in both groups, except for Smith-Peterson osteotomy. Multivariate logistic regression showed that every unit increase in preoperative FEV1 (%) decreases the odds of pulmonary complication by 9% (OR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.84-0.98, P = .013). Conclusion: The observed 6.1% incidence of pulmonary complications is comparable to reported series. Preoperative FEV1 was an independent predictor of pulmonary complications. The observed case fatality rate following pulmonary complications (17%) highlights the complexity of cases in underserved regions and the need for thorough preoperative evaluation to identify high-risk patients.

Inverted flap technique with air tamponade and one day face down positioning for posttraumatic macular hole surgery in a young male patient in sub-Saharan Africa

Introduction: Surgery has been the mainstay of macular hole treatment since the first description of its success. Different techniques are, however, described. Our case report looks into the use of the inverted flap technique for managing patients with posttraumatic full thickness macular holes with a single day supervised face down positioning and air tamponade.

Case Report: A 32-year-old young man sustained blunt ocular trauma to his left eye while under training seven months prior to presentation with reduced central vision and metamorphopsia. On examination visual acuities were best corrected 6/6 in the right and 6/60 in the left, anterior segments were normal. Fundoscopy revealed flat retinae, and extensive linear chorioretina scars in the posterior pole suggestive of healed choroidal ruptures and a posttraumatic stage 4 full thickness macular hole (FTMH) in the left. The FTMH measured 877 μm on optical coherence tomography (OCT). The patient had a macular hole surgery using the inverted flap technique with one-day face down positioning and air tamponade. Significant hole closure was seen in the first postoperative week and by six weeks after surgery, the macular hole was fully closed and vision improved to 6/6 best corrected. The inverted flap technique with air tamponade and one day face down positioning can offer another option to retina surgeons treating complex macular holes. Early visual recovery and ability to undertake air travel immediately after surgery is an additional advantage.

Conclusion: Using the inverted flap technique for surgery provides surgeons with another option for repair of complex FTMHs, like those secondary to trauma that have been known to respond poorly to initial standard repair.

National approaches to trichiasis surgical follow-up, outcome assessment and surgeon audit in trachoma-endemic countries in Africa

Background: Poor outcomes of trichiasis surgery, including postoperative trichiasis, are common in many trachoma-endemic countries in Africa. To improve outcomes, WHO recommends regular follow-up and outcome assessment of surgical cases plus audit of trichiasis surgeons.

Aims: To assess national approaches to trichiasis surgical follow-up, outcome assessment and audit, and identify national targets for good surgical outcome (defined as the percentage of patients undergoing surgery for trichiasis remaining free of post-operative trichiasis for a defined interval after surgery).

Methods: A cross-sectional survey was carried out between May and July 2018, involving all 29 known-trachoma-endemic countries in Africa. An emailed questionnaire was used to collect information on national targets for surgical outcomes, policies, monitoring and strategies to address underperformance by surgeons.

Results: All national programmes provided information; 2 of the 29 had not yet implemented trichiasis surgery as part of their trachoma elimination programme. Findings from 27 countries are therefore reported. Only four countries reported having a national policy for trichiasis surgery follow-up and outcome assessment and only two had a national policy for conducting audits of trichiasis surgeons. Only 9 of the 27 countries had a cut-off point at which poorly performing surgeons would be instructed to discontinue surgery until retraining or other interventions had been undertaken.

Discussion: To address the challenge of post-operative trichiasis and other poor outcomes, national trachoma programmes should create and implement policies and systems to follow up patients, assess surgical outcomes and monitor the performance of individual surgeons through post-surgical audits.

Is AJCC/UICC Staging Still Appropriate for Head and Neck Cancers in Developing Countries?

By 2030, 70% of cancers will occur in developing countries. Head and neck cancers are primarily a developing world disease. While anatomical location and the extent of cancers are central to defining prognosis and staging, the American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC)/International Union Against Cancer (UICC) have incorporated nonanatomic factors that correlate with prognosis into staging (eg, p16 status of oropharyngeal cancers). However, 16 of 17 head and neck surgeons from 13 African countries cannot routinely test for p16 status and hence can no longer apply AJCC/UICC staging to oropharyngeal cancer. While the AJCC/UICC should continue to refine staging that best reflects treatment outcomes and prognosis by incorporating new nonanatomical factors, they should also retain and refine anatomically based staging to serve the needs of clinicians and their patients in resource-constrained settings. Not to do so would diminish their global relevance and in so doing also disadvantage most of the world’s cancer patients.

Barriers to surgery performed by non-physician clinicians in sub-Saharan Africa—a scoping review

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces the highest burden of disease amenable to surgery while having the lowest surgeon to population ratio in the world. Some 25 SSA countries use surgical task-shifting from physicians to non-physician clinicians (NPCs) as a strategy to increase access to surgery. While many studies have investigated barriers to access to surgical services, there is a dearth of studies that examine the barriers to shifting of surgical tasks to, and the delivery of safe essential surgical care by NPCs, especially in rural areas of SSA. This study aims to identify those barriers and how they vary between surgical disciplines as well as between countries.

We performed a scoping review of articles published between 2000 and 2018, listed in PubMed or Embase. Full-text articles were read by two reviewers to identify barriers to surgical task-shifting. Cited barriers were counted and categorized, partly based on the World Health Organization (WHO) health systems building blocks.

Sixty-two articles met the inclusion criteria, and 14 clusters of barriers were identified, which were assigned to four main categories: primary outcomes, NPC workforce, regulation, and environment and resources. Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, and Mozambique had the largest number of articles reporting barriers, with Uganda reporting the largest variety of barriers from empirical studies only. Obstetric and gynaecologic surgery had more articles and cited barriers than other specialties.

A multitude of factors hampers the provision of surgery by NPCs across SSA. The two main issues are surgical pre-requisites and the need for regulatory and professional frameworks to legitimate and control the surgical practice of NPCs.

Surgical Management of Urolithiasis of the Upper Tract – Current Trend of Endourology in Africa

Urolithiasis is a global pathology with increasing prevalence rate. The lifetime recurrence of urolithiasis ranges from 10– 75% creating a public health crisis in affected regions. The epidemiology of urolithiasis in most parts of Africa and Asia remains poorly documented as incidence and prevalence rates in these settings are extrapolated from hospital admissions. The surgical management of kidney and ureteral stones is based on the stone location, size, the patient’s preference and the institutional capacity. To date, the available modalities in the management of urolithiasis includes external shock wave lithotripsy (ESWL), percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL), ureterorenoscopy (URS) including flexible and semirigid ureteroscopy. However, regarding the lack of endourological equipment and expertise in most parts of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), most urological centers in these regions still consider open surgery for kidney and ureteral stones. This review explores the current trend and surgical management of upper tract urolithiasis in SSA with insight on the available clinical guidelines