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Cyrus Elahi, Theresa Williamson, Charis A. Spears, Sarah Williams, Josephine Nambi Najjuma, Catherine A. Staton, João Ricardo Nickenig Vissoci, Anthony Fuller, David Kitya and Michael M. Haglund

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic brain injury (TBI), a burgeoning global health concern, is one condition that could benefit from prognostic modeling. Risk stratification of TBI patients on presentation to a health facility can support the prudent use of limited resources. The CRASH (Corticosteroid Randomisation After Significant Head Injury) model is a well-established prognostic model developed to augment complex decision-making. The authors’ current study objective was to better understand in-hospital decision-making for TBI patients and determine whether data from the CRASH risk calculator influenced provider assessment of prognosis.

METHODS

The authors performed a choice experiment using a simulated TBI case. All participant doctors received the same case, which included a patient history, vitals, and physical examination findings. Half the participants also received the CRASH risk score. Participants were asked to estimate the patient prognosis and decide the best next treatment step. The authors recruited a convenience sample of 28 doctors involved in TBI care at both a regional and a national referral hospital in Uganda.

RESULTS

For the simulated case, the CRASH risk scores for 14-day mortality and an unfavorable outcome at 6 months were 51.4% (95% CI 42.8%, 59.8%) and 89.8% (95% CI 86.0%, 92.6%), respectively. Overall, participants were overoptimistic when estimating the patient prognosis. Risk estimates by doctors provided with the CRASH risk score were closer to that score than estimates made by doctors in the control group; this effect was more pronounced for inexperienced doctors. Surgery was selected as the best next step by 86% of respondents.

CONCLUSIONS

This study was a novel assessment of a TBI prognostic model’s influence on provider estimation of risk in a low-resource setting. Exposure to CRASH risk score data reduced overoptimistic prognostication by doctors, particularly among inexperienced providers.

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Global neurosurgery: innovators, strategies, and the way forward

JNSPG 75th Anniversary Invited Review Article

Michael M. Haglund and Anthony T. Fuller

Around the world today, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have not benefited from advancements in neurosurgery; most have minimal or even no neurosurgical capacity in their entire country. In this paper, the authors examine in broad strokes the different ways in which individuals, organizations, and universities engage in global neurosurgery to address the global challenges faced in many LMICs. Key strategies include surgical camps, educational programs, training programs, health system strengthening projects, health policy changes/development, and advocacy. Global neurosurgery has begun coalescing with large strides taken to develop a coherent voice for this work. This large-scale collaboration via multilateral, multinational engagement is the only true solution to the issues we face in global neurosurgery. Key players have begun to come together toward this ultimate solution, and the future of global neurosurgery is bright.

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Cyrus Elahi, Thiago Augusto Hernandes Rocha, Núbia Cristina da Silva, Francis M. Sakita, Ansbert Sweetbert Ndebea, Anthony Fuller, Michael M. Haglund, Blandina T. Mmbaga, João Ricardo Nickenig Vissoci and Catherine A. Staton

OBJECTIVE

The purpose of this study was to determine if patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI) in low- and middle-income countries who receive surgery have better outcomes than patients with TBI who do not receive surgery, and whether this differs with severity of injury.

METHODS

The authors generated a series of Kaplan-Meier plots and performed multiple Cox proportional hazard models to assess the relationship between TBI surgery and TBI severity. The TBI severity was categorized using admission Glasgow Coma Scale scores: mild (14, 15), moderate (9–13), or severe (3–8). The authors investigated outcomes from admission to hospital day 14. The outcome considered was the Glasgow Outcome Scale–Extended, categorized as poor outcome (1–4) and good outcome (5–8). The authors used TBI registry data collected from 2013 to 2017 at a regional referral hospital in Tanzania.

RESULTS

Of the final 2502 patients, 609 (24%) received surgery and 1893 (76%) did not receive surgery. There were significantly fewer road traffic injuries and more violent causes of injury in those receiving surgery. Those receiving surgery were also more likely to receive care in the ICU, to have a poor outcome, to have a moderate or severe TBI, and to stay in the hospital longer. The hazard ratio for patients with TBI who underwent operation versus those who did not was 0.17 (95% CI 0.06–0.49; p < 0.001) in patients with moderate TBI; 0.2 (95% CI 0.06–0.64; p = 0.01) for those with mild TBI, and 0.47 (95% CI 0.24–0.89; p = 0.02) for those with severe TBI.

CONCLUSIONS

Those who received surgery for their TBI had a lower hazard for poor outcome than those who did not. Surgical intervention was associated with the greatest improvement in outcomes for moderate head injuries, followed by mild and severe injuries. The findings suggest a reprioritization of patients with moderate TBI—a drastic change to the traditional practice within low- and middle-income countries in which the most severely injured patients are prioritized for care.

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Anthony T. Fuller, Ariana Barkley, Robin Du, Cyrus Elahi, MScGH, Ali R. Tafreshi, Megan Von Isenburg and Michael M. Haglund

OBJECTIVE

Global neurosurgery is a rapidly emerging field that aims to address the worldwide shortages in neurosurgical care. Many published outreach efforts and initiatives exist to address the global disparity in neurosurgical care; however, there is no centralized report detailing these efforts. This scoping review aims to characterize the field of global neurosurgery by identifying partnerships between high-income countries (HICs) and low- and/or middle-income countries (LMICs) that seek to increase neurosurgical capacity.

METHODS

A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley framework. A search was conducted in five electronic databases and the gray literature, defined as literature not published through traditional commercial or academic means, to identify studies describing global neurosurgery partnerships. Study selection and data extraction were performed by four independent reviewers, and any disagreements were settled by the team and ultimately the team lead.

RESULTS

The original database search produced 2221 articles, which was reduced to 183 final articles after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria. These final articles, along with 9 additional gray literature references, captured 169 unique global neurosurgery collaborations between HICs and LMICs. Of this total, 103 (61%) collaborations involved surgical intervention, while local training of medical personnel, research, and education were done in 48%, 38%, and 30% of efforts, respectively. Many of the collaborations (100 [59%]) are ongoing, and 93 (55%) of them resulted in an increase in capacity within the LMIC involved. The largest proportion of efforts began between 2005–2009 (28%) and 2010–2014 (17%). The most frequently involved HICs were the United States, Canada, and France, whereas the most frequently involved LMICs were Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya.

CONCLUSIONS

This review provides a detailed overview of current global neurosurgery efforts, elucidates gaps in the existing literature, and identifies the LMICs that may benefit from further efforts to improve accessibility to essential neurosurgical care worldwide.