Recommendations for Head and Neck Surgical Oncology Practice in a Setting of Acute Severe Resource Constraint During the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Consensus

The speed and scale of the global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in unprecedented pressures on health services worldwide, requiring new methods of service delivery during the health crisis. In the setting of severe resource constraint and high risk of infection to patients and clinicians, there is an urgent need to identify consensus statements on head and neck surgical oncology practice. We completed a modified Delphi consensus process of three rounds with 40 international experts in head and neck cancer surgical, radiation, and medical oncology, representing 35 international professional societies and national clinical trial groups. Endorsed by 39 societies and professional bodies, these consensus practice recommendations aim to decrease inconsistency of practice, reduce uncertainty in care, and provide reassurance for clinicians worldwide for head and neck surgical oncology in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the setting of acute severe resource constraint and high risk of infection to patients and staff.

Pearls of Experience for Safe and Efficient Hospital Practices in Otorhinolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery in Hong Kong During the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic

The 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) epidemic originated in Wuhan, China and spread rapidly worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare an official global COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. In Hong Kong, clinicians and other healthcare personnel collaborated closely to combat the outbreak of COVID-19 and minimize the cross-transmission of disease among hospital staff members. In the field of otorhinolaryngology-head and neck surgery (OHNS) and its various subspecialties, contingency plans were required for patient bookings in outpatient clinics, surgeries in operating rooms, protocols in wards and other services. Infected patients may shed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) particles into their environments via body secretions. Therefore, otolaryngologists and other healthcare personnel in this specialty face a high risk of contracting COVID-19 and must remain vigilant when performing examinations and procedures involving the nose and throat. In this article, we share our experiences of the planning and logistics undertaken to provide safe and efficient OHNS practices over the last 2 months, during the COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that our experiences will serve as pearls for otolaryngologists and other healthcare personnel working in institutes that serve large numbers of patients every day, particularly with regard to the sharing of clinical and administrative tasks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Surgical outreach and microvascular surgery in developing countries.

Due to the discrepancy between surgical demand and resources in Low-Middle Income Countries (LMIC), surgical outreach programs (SOP) have increased in popularity. In these resource-constrained healthcare environments, the resources necessary to perform basic head and neck procedures are often lacking, and offering microvascular reconstruction adds yet another level of complexity. Here we discuss the difficulties and challenges in establishing a SOP abroad and more specifically some of the challenges specific to microvascular reconstruction – including patient selection, burden of cost, lack of infrastructure and equipment, and patient follow up and outcomes. Although challenges certainly exist, we present the feasibility and the benefit for patient care as well as the role it can play in the foundation development of a low-resource region. The goals of the SOP must be well-defined, and incorporating microvascular surgery can be used as an adjunct to enhance the development of many aspects of the LMIC healthcare system. We present a model of care in which the initial focus is centered on providing safe care to these patients undergoing complex procedures, but after the development of a strong foundation, the focus can begin to include program sustainability and education.