There is a paucity of literature on long-term neurosurgical outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa, and as neurosurgical services expand in each country, it would be beneficial to understand the impact of these services on the national population. Since follow-up can be inconsistent, the authors here used the novel method of telephone surveys to conduct the first-ever long-term follow-up in Uganda to elucidate the outcomes of pediatric head trauma patients treated at the national referral hospital.
A prospectively maintained database of pediatric head trauma patients treated at the Mulago National Referral Hospital (MNRH) between 2014 and 2015 included 232 patients eligible for this study. Quality of life was assessed through phone surveys conducted by a Ugandan collaborator on site who performed all interviews with the guardian listed at the time of hospital admission, using each participant’s language.
Phone interviews were completed for 142 patients, resulting in a 61% response rate. Including inpatient deaths, the mortality rate was 10%. Almost half of the patients (48%) did not return to MNRH postdischarge, and 37% received no subsequent healthcare at all. Including inpatient deaths, the average Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale–Pediatric Revision (GOSE-Peds) scores for patients with severe, moderate, and mild head trauma were 5.68 ± 2.85, 4.79 ± 2.38, and 3.12 ± 2.08, respectively, at 1 year postinjury and 5.56 ± 2.58, 4.00 ± 2.45, and 2.21 ± 1.49, respectively, at 2 years postinjury.
This first-ever long-term follow-up of pediatric head trauma patients in Uganda confirmed the feasibility of a novel phone follow-up method for patients throughout Uganda. The results at 2 years showed poor long-term recovery in patients who suffered moderate or severe head trauma but good recovery in patients who suffered mild head trauma. However, there was greater overall disability than that in comparable head trauma studies in the US. The current study lays the groundwork for phone follow-up in low- and middle-income countries as a viable way to obtain outcome data.
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