Surviving the Struggle of COVID-19: Practical Recommendations for Pediatric/Adult Cardiology and Cardiac Surgical Programs in Resource-Limited Settings: a Review

Introduction: The primary aim of this systematic review is to provide perioperative strategies to help restore or preserve cardiovascular services under threat from financial and personnel constraints imposed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
Methods: The Medical Literature Analysis and Retrieval System Online, Excerpta Medica dataBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials/CCTR, and Google Scholar were systematically searched using the search terms “(cardiac OR cardiology OR cardiothoracic OR surgery) AND (COVID-19 or coronavirus OR SARS-CoV-2 OR 2019-nCoV OR 2019 novel coronavirus OR pandemic)”. Additionally, the webpages of relevant medical
societies, including the World Federation Society of Anesthesiologists, the Cardiothoracic Surgery Network, and the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, were screened for relevant information.
Results: Whereas cardiac surgery and cardiology practices were reduced by 50–75% during the pandemic, mortality of patients with COVID-19 increased significantly. Healthcare workers are among those at high risk of infection with COVID-19.
Conclusion: Hospitals must provide maximum protective equipment and training on how to use it to healthcare workers for their mutual protection. Triage management of patients — which accounts for patient’s clinical status and risk-factor profile relatable to which services are available during the COVID-19 pandemic — is recommended. A strict reorganization of the hospital resources including preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative detailed protective measures is necessary to reduce probability of vector contamination, to protect patients and the cardiovascular teams, and to permit safe resumption of cardiological and cardiac surgical activity.

Hydatid brain cyst: A delayed diagnosis in a rural setting during COVID-19

A previously healthy 10-year-old girl, living in a sheep-farming community in South Africa with exposure to dogs, presented to her local hospital with generalised tonic-clonic seizures. The initial clinical assessment and laboratory work-up were unremarkable. When she presented with further seizures 6 months later, attempts to arrange neuroimaging and specialist assessment were unsuccessful owing to restrictions on routine healthcare services during the SARS-CoV-2 nationwide lockdown. Subsequently, 11 months after her first presentation, she developed focal neurological signs suggestive of raised intracranial pressure. A brain computed tomography scan revealed a left-sided cerebral cyst and imminent tonsillar herniation. An emergency burr-hole procedure was performed to relieve the raised intracranial pressure, followed by definitive neurosurgical excision of cysts. Hydatid protoscolices and hooklets were seen on microscopy of cyst fluid, and treatment with albendazole and praziquantel was initiated. While her infection was treated successfully, long-term sequelae including permanent blindness and hemiparesis could potentially have been prevented with early neuroimaging and surgical intervention.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on international reconstructive collaborations in Africa

The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has catalysed a widespread humanitarian crisis in many low- and middle-income countries around the world, with many African nations significantly impacted. The aim of this study was to quantify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the planning and provision of international reconstructive collaborations in Africa.

An anonymous, 14-question, multiple choice questionnaire was sent to 27 non-governmental organisations who regularly perform reconstructive surgery in Africa. The survey was open to responses for four weeks, closing on the 7th of March 2021. A single reminder was sent out at 2 weeks. The survey covered four key domains: (1) NGO demographics; (2) the impact of COVID-19 on patient follow-up; (3) barriers to the safe provision of international surgical collaborations during COVID-19; (4) the impact of COVID-19 on NGO funding.

A total of ten reconstructive NGOs completed the survey (response rate, 37%). Ethiopia (n = 5) and Tanzania (n = 4) were the countries where most collaborations took place. Plastic, reconstructive and burns surgery was the most common sub-speciality (n = 7). For NGOs that did not have a year-round presence in country (n = 8), only one NGO was able to perform reconstructive surgery in Africa during the pandemic. The most common barrier identified was travel restrictions (within country, n = 8 or country entry-exit, n = 7). Pre-pandemic, 1547 to ≥ 1800 patients received reconstructive surgery on international surgical collaborations. After the outbreak, 70% of NGOs surveyed had treated no patients, with approximately 1405 to ≥ 1640 patients left untreated over the last year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has placed huge pressures on health services and their delivery across the globe. This theme has extended into international surgical collaborations leading to increased unmet surgical needs in low- and middle-income countries.

Qualitative exploration of health system response to COVID-19 pandemic applying the WHO health systems framework: Case study of a Nigerian state

Pandemics can result in significantly high rates of morbidity and mortality with higher impact in Lower- and Middle-Income Countries like Nigeria. Health systems have an important role in a multi-sector response to pandemics, as there are already concerns that COVID-19 will significantly divert limited health care resources. This study appraised the readiness and resilience of the Nigerian health system to the COVID-19 pandemic, using Oyo State, southwest Nigeria, as a case study. This study was a cross-sectional qualitative study involving key informant and in-depth interviews. Purposive sampling was used in recruiting participants who were members of the Task Force on COVID-19 in the state and Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) members (physicians, nurses, laboratory scientists, “contact tracers”, logistic managers) and other partners. The state’s health system response to COVID 19 was assessed using the WHO health systems framework. Audio recordings of the interviews done in English were transcribed and thematic analysis of these transcripts was carried out using NVIVO software. Results show that the state government responded promptly by putting in place measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the response was not adequate owing to the fact that the health system has already been weakened by various challenges like poor funding of the health system, shortage of human resources and inadequate infrastructure. These contributed to the health system’s sub-optimal response to the pandemic. In order to arm the health system for adequate and appropriate response during major health disasters like pandemics, fundamental pillars of the health system-finance, human resources, information and technology, medical equipment and leadership – need to be addressed in order to have a resilient health system.

SARS-CoV-2 vaccination modelling for safe surgery to save lives: data from an international prospective cohort study

Preoperative SARS-CoV-2 vaccination could support safer elective surgery. Vaccine numbers are limited so this study aimed to inform their prioritization by modelling.

The primary outcome was the number needed to vaccinate (NNV) to prevent one COVID-19-related death in 1 year. NNVs were based on postoperative SARS-CoV-2 rates and mortality in an international cohort study (surgical patients), and community SARS-CoV-2 incidence and case fatality data (general population). NNV estimates were stratified by age (18–49, 50–69, 70 or more years) and type of surgery. Best- and worst-case scenarios were used to describe uncertainty.

NNVs were more favourable in surgical patients than the general population. The most favourable NNVs were in patients aged 70 years or more needing cancer surgery (351; best case 196, worst case 816) or non-cancer surgery (733; best case 407, worst case 1664). Both exceeded the NNV in the general population (1840; best case 1196, worst case 3066). NNVs for surgical patients remained favourable at a range of SARS-CoV-2 incidence rates in sensitivity analysis modelling. Globally, prioritizing preoperative vaccination of patients needing elective surgery ahead of the general population could prevent an additional 58 687 (best case 115 007, worst case 20 177) COVID-19-related deaths in 1 year.

As global roll out of SARS-CoV-2 vaccination proceeds, patients needing elective surgery should be prioritized ahead of the general population.

The Role of the Orthopaedic Surgeon in the COVID-19 Era: Cautions and Perspectives

The current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has revolutionized global healthcare in an unprecedented way and with unimaginable repercussions. Resource reallocation, socioeconomic confinement and reorganization of production activities are current challenges being faced both at the national and international levels, in a frame of uncertainty and fear. Hospitals have been restructured to provide the best care to COVID-19 patients while adopting preventive strategies not to spread the infection among healthcare providers and patients affected by other diseases. As a consequence, the concept of urgency and indications for elective treatments have been profoundly reshaped. In addition, several providers have been recruited in COVID-19 departments despite their original occupation, resulting in a profound rearrangement of both inpatient and outpatient care. Orthopaedic daily practice has been significantly affected by the pandemic. Surgical indications have been reformulated, with elective cases being promptly postponed and urgent interventions requiring exceptional attention, especially in suspected or COVID-19+ patients. This has made a strong impact on inpatient management, with the need of a dedicated staff, patient isolation and restrictive visiting hour policies. On the other hand, outpatient visits have been limited to reduce contacts between patients and the hospital personnel, with considerable consequences on post-operative quality of care and the human side of medical practice.

In this review, we aim to analyze the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on the orthopaedic practice. Particular attention will be dedicated to opportune surgical indication, perioperative care and safe management of both inpatients and outpatients, also considering repercussions of the pandemic on resident education and ethical implications.