Robotic external ventricular drain placement for acute neurosurgical care in low-resource settings: feasibility considerations and a prototype design

Emergency neurosurgical care in lower-middle-income countries faces pronounced shortages in neurosurgical personnel and infrastructure. In instances of traumatic brain injury (TBI), hydrocephalus, and subarachnoid hemorrhage, the timely placement of external ventricular drains (EVDs) strongly dictates prognosis and can provide necessary stabilization before transfer to a higher-level center of care that has access to neurosurgery. Accordingly, the authors have developed an inexpensive and portable robotic navigation tool to allow surgeons who do not have explicit neurosurgical training to place EVDs. In this article, the authors aimed to highlight income disparities in neurosurgical care, evaluate access to CT imaging around the world, and introduce a novel, inexpensive robotic navigation tool for EVD placement.

By combining the worldwide distribution of neurosurgeons, CT scanners, and gross domestic product with the incidence of TBI, meningitis, and hydrocephalus, the authors identified regions and countries where development of an inexpensive, passive robotic navigation system would be most beneficial and feasible. A prototype of the robotic navigation system was constructed using encoders, 3D-printed components, machined parts, and a printed circuit board.

Global analysis showed Montenegro, Antigua and Barbuda, and Seychelles to be primary candidates for implementation and feasibility testing of the novel robotic navigation system. To validate the feasibility of the system for further development, its performance was analyzed through an accuracy study resulting in accuracy and repeatability within 1.53 ± 2.50 mm (mean ± 2 × SD, 95% CI).

By considering regions of the world that have a shortage of neurosurgeons and a high incidence of EVD placement, the authors were able to provide an analysis of where to prioritize the development of a robotic navigation system. Subsequently, a proof-of-principle prototype has been provided, with sufficient accuracy to target the ventricles for EVD placement.

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.

Endoscopic Third Ventriculostomy With Choroid Plexus Cauterization for the Treatment of Infantile Hydrocephalus in Haiti

Objective: Untreated hydrocephalus poses a significant health risk to children in the developing world. In response to this risk, global neurosurgical efforts have increasingly focused on endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization (ETV/CPC) in the management of infantile hydrocephalus in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Here, the authors report their experience with ETV/CPC at the Hospital Bernard-Mevs/Project Medishare (HBMPM) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Methods: The authors conducted a retrospective review of a series of consecutive children who had undergone ETV/CPC for hydrocephalus over a 1-year period at HBMPM. The primary outcome of interest was time to ETV/CPC failure. Univariate and multivariate analyses using a Cox proportional hazards regression were performed to identify preoperative factors that were associated with outcomes.

Results: Of the 82 children who underwent ETV/CPC, 52.2% remained shunt free at the last follow-up (mean 6.4 months). On univariate analysis, the ETV success score (ETVSS; p = 0.002), success of the attempted ETV (p = 0.018), and bilateral CPC (p = 0.045) were associated with shunt freedom. In the multivariate models, a lower ETVSS was independently associated with a poor outcome (HR 0.072, 95% CI 0.016-0.32, p < 0.001). Two children (2.4%) died of postoperative seizures.

Conclusions: As in other LMICs, ETV/CPC is an effective treatment for hydrocephalus in children in Haiti, with a low but significant risk profile. Larger multinational prospective databases may further elucidate the ideal candidate for ETV/CPC in resource-poor settings.