A 3-year-old boy presented after a hyena bite to the skull in Tanzania. A large degloving wound with herniating cerebrum was seen in the right parietotemporal region. A CT scan confirmed a large 8-cm skull defect. The patient was taken for irrigation and debridement, but due to significant tissue loss, the skin could not be closed. CSF leaked from the wound, and two additional operations for attempted closure were undertaken but failed. The plastic surgery team was consulted, but no closure was done because of the procedure’s complexity, lack of resources, and cost. CSF diversion could not be performed due to no available lumbar catheter or external ventricular drain. Meningitis developed, leading to severe hyponatremia and death. The current case highlights both the unique mechanism of a hyena bite requiring neurosurgical intervention and the realities of practicing neurosurgery in a low-resource setting.
Denis Mkony, Juma Magogo Mzimbiri, Andreas Leidinger, Christopher M. Bonfield, Scott L. Zuckerman, and Roger Härtl
Andreas Leidinger, Pablo Extremera, Eliana E. Kim, Mahmood M. Qureshi, Paul H. Young, and José Piquer
The objective of this study was to describe the experience of a volunteering neurosurgeon during an 18-week stay at the Neurosurgery Education and Development (NED) Institute and to report the general situation regarding the development of neurosurgery in Zanzibar, identifying the challenges and opportunities and explaining the NED Foundation’s model for safe practice and sustainability.
The NED Foundation deployed the volunteer neurosurgeon coordinator (NC) for an 18-week stay at the NED Institute at the Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, Stonetown, Zanzibar. The main roles of the NC were as follows: management of patients, reinforcement of weekly academic activities, coordination of international surgical camps, and identification of opportunities for improvement. The improvement opportunities were categorized as clinical, administrative, and sociocultural and were based on observations made by the NC as well as on interviews with local doctors, administrators, and government officials.
During the 18-week period, the NC visited 460 patients and performed 85 surgical procedures. Four surgical camps were coordinated on-site. Academic activities were conducted weekly. The most significant challenges encountered were an intense workload, deficient infrastructure, lack of self-confidence among local physicians, deficiencies in technical support and repairs of broken equipment, and lack of guidelines. Through a series of interviews, the sociocultural factors influencing the NED Foundation’s intervention were determined. Factors identified for success were the activity of neurosurgical societies in East Africa; structured pan-African neurosurgical training; the support of the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery (FIENS) and the College of Surgeons of East, Central and Southern Africa (COSECSA); motivated personnel; and the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar’s willingness to collaborate with the NED Foundation.
International collaboration programs should balance local challenges and opportunities in order to effectively promote the development of neurosurgery in East Africa. Support and endorsement should be sought to harness shared resources and experience. Determining the caregiving and educational objectives within the logistic, administrative, social, and cultural framework of the target hospital is paramount to success.
Andreas Leidinger, Eliana E. Kim, Rodrigo Navarro-Ramirez, Nicephorus Rutabasibwa, Salim R. Msuya, Gulce Askin, Raphael Greving, Hamisi K. Shabani, and Roger Härtl
Spinal trauma is a major cause of disability worldwide. The burden is especially severe in low-income countries, where hospital infrastructure is poor, resources are limited, and the volume of cases is high. Currently, there are no reliable data available on incidence, management, and outcomes of spinal trauma in East Africa. The main objective of this study was to describe, for the first time, the demographics, management, costs of surgery and implants, treatment decision factors, and outcomes of patients with spine trauma in Tanzania.
The authors retrospectively reviewed prospectively collected data on spinal trauma patients in the single surgical referral center in Tanzania (Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute [MOI]) from October 2016 to December 2017. They collected general demographics and the following information: distance from site of trauma to the center, American Spinal Injury Association Impairment Scale (AIS), time to surgery, steroid use, and mechanism of trauma and AOSpine classification and costs. Surgical details and complications were recorded. Primary outcome was neurological status on discharge. The authors analyzed surgical outcome and determined predicting factors for positive outcome.
A total of 180 patients were included and analyzed in this study. The mean distance from site of trauma to MOI was 278.0 km, and the time to admission was on average 5.9 days after trauma. Young males were primarily affected (82.8% males, average age 35.7 years). On admission, 47.2% of patients presented with AIS grade A. Most common mechanisms of injury were motor vehicle accidents (28.9%) and falls from height (32.8%). Forty percent of admitted patients underwent surgery. The mean time to surgery was 33.2 days; 21.4% of patients who underwent surgery improved in AIS grade at discharge (p = 0.030). Overall, the only factor associated with improvement in neurological status was undergoing surgery (p = 0.03) and shorter time to surgery (p = 0.02).
This is the first study to describe the management and outcomes of spinal trauma in East Africa. Due to the lack of referral hospitals, patients are admitted late after trauma, often with severe neurological deficit. Surgery is performed but generally late in the course of hospital stay. The decision to perform surgery and timing are heavily influenced by the availability of implants and economic factors such as insurance status. Patients with incomplete deficits who may benefit most from surgery are not prioritized. The authors’ results suggest that surgery may have a positive impact on patient outcome. Further studies with a larger sample size are needed to confirm our results. These results provide strong support to implement evidence-based protocols for the management of spinal trauma.
Halinder S. Mangat, Xian Wu, Linda M. Gerber, Hamisi K. Shabani, Albert Lazaro, Andreas Leidinger, Maria M. Santos, Paul H. McClelland, Hanna Schenck, Pascal Joackim, Japhet G. Ngerageza, Franziska Schmidt, Philip E. Stieg, and Roger Hartl
Given the high burden of neurotrauma in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), in this observational study, the authors evaluated the treatment and outcomes of patients with severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) accessing care at the national neurosurgical institute in Tanzania.
A neurotrauma registry was established at Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute, Dar-es-Salaam, and patients with severe TBI admitted within 24 hours of injury were included. Detailed emergency department and subsequent medical and surgical management of patients was recorded. Two-week mortality was measured and compared with estimates of predicted mortality computed with admission clinical variables using the Corticoid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury (CRASH) core model.
In total, 462 patients (mean age 33.9 years) with severe TBI were enrolled over 4.5 years; 89% of patients were male. The mean time to arrival to the hospital after injury was 8 hours; 48.7% of patients had advanced airway management in the emergency department, 55% underwent cranial CT scanning, and 19.9% underwent surgical intervention. Tiered medical therapies for intracranial hypertension were used in less than 50% of patients. The observed 2-week mortality was 67%, which was 24% higher than expected based on the CRASH core model.
The 2-week mortality from severe TBI at a tertiary referral center in Tanzania was 67%, which was significantly higher than the predicted estimates. The higher mortality was related to gaps in the continuum of care of patients with severe TBI, including cardiorespiratory monitoring, resuscitation, neuroimaging, and surgical rates, along with lower rates of utilization of available medical therapies. In ongoing work, the authors are attempting to identify reasons associated with the gaps in care to implement programmatic improvements. Capacity building by twinning provides an avenue for acquiring data to accurately estimate local needs and direct programmatic education and interventions to reduce excess in-hospital mortality from TBI.