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Maria Pia Tropeano, Riccardo Spaggiari, Hernán Ileyassoff, Kee B. Park, Angelos G. Kolias, Peter J. Hutchinson, and Franco Servadei

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a global public health problem and more than 70% of trauma-related deaths are estimated to occur in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Nevertheless, there is a consistent lack of data from these countries. The aim of this work is to estimate the capacity of different and heterogeneous areas of the world to report and publish data on TBI. In addition, we wanted to estimate the countries with the highest and lowest number of publications when taking into account the relative TBI burden.

METHODS

First, a bibliometric analysis of all the publications about TBI available in the PubMed database from January 1, 2008, to December 31, 2018, was performed. These data were tabulated by country and grouped according to each geographical region as indicated by the WHO: African Region (AFR), Region of the Americas (PAH), South-East Asia Region (SEAR), European Region (EUR), Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), and Western Pacific Region (WPR). In this analysis, PAH was further subdivided into Latin America (AMR-L) and North America (AMR-US/Can). Then a “publication to TBI volume ratio” was derived to estimate the research interest in TBI with respect to the frequency of this pathology.

RESULTS

Between 2008 and 2018 a total of 8144 articles were published and indexed in the PubMed database about TBI. Leading WHO regions in terms of contributions were AMR-US/Can with 4183 articles (51.36%), followed by EUR with 2003 articles (24.60%), WPR with 1507 (18.50%), AMR-L with 141 articles (1.73%), EMR with 135 (1.66%), AFR with 91 articles (1.12%), and SEAR with 84 articles (1.03%). The highest publication to TBI volume ratios were found for AMR-US/Can (90.93) and EUR (21.54), followed by WPR (8.71) and AMR-L (2.43). Almost 90 times lower than the ratio of AMR-US/Can were the ratios for AFR (1.15) and SEAR (0.46).

CONCLUSIONS

An important disparity currently exists between countries with a high burden of TBI and those in which most of the research is conducted. A call for improvement of data collection and research outputs along with an increase in international collaboration could quantitatively and qualitatively improve the ability of LMICs to ameliorate TBI care and develop clinical practice guidelines.

Free access

Federico Pessina, Pierina Navarria, Luisa Bellu, Elena Clerici, Letterio Salvatore Politi, Maria Pia Tropeano, Matteo Simonelli, Maurizio Fornari, and Marta Scorsetti

OBJECTIVE

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has changed the way in which cancer is treated. Patients with high-grade glioma (HGG) are believed to be in a vulnerable category. The aim of this study was to describe the experience of a hub cancer center and the measures that were put in place for treatment of patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent glioma.

METHODS

To prevent in-hospital contagion and preserve the safety of health professionals and patients, specific protocols and strict regulations were introduced. Physical distancing, use of surgical masks, and diligent hand hygiene were adopted. Each case was discussed in a multidisciplinary board meeting before treatment. All patient candidates for surgical procedures were tested for SARS-CoV-2 with a nasopharyngeal swab and a chest CT scan. Indications for surgery were the radiological suspicion of HGG in patients with a good performance status and/or the rapid and progressive occurrence of neurological deficits. Adjuvant treatments were performed only in cases of HGG. This therapy consisted of conventional fractional radiotherapy (RT; 60 Gy/30 fractions) with concomitant and adjuvant temozolomide chemotherapy (TMZCHT) in younger patients; in elderly patients, a short course of RT was employed (40.5 Gy/15 fractions). For recurrent HGG, treatments were assessed after a careful evaluation of the patient’s general condition, neurological status, and risk of early impairment in neurological status if not treated. During simulation CT for the RT plan, each patient underwent a chest CT study. In cases in which an imaging study was suspicious for COVID-19 pneumonia, the patient was immediately isolated and rapidly underwent nasopharyngeal swab testing.

RESULTS

Between March 1 and April 30, 2020, 23 HGGs were treated, and these cases are included in the present evaluation. Fifteen patients harboring newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM) underwent resection followed by a regimen of chemotherapy and RT, and 3 patients with newly diagnosed anaplastic oligodendroglioma underwent surgery followed by adjuvant RT. Five patients were treated for recurrent GBM, and they received surgery plus adjuvant RT. One patient in whom the simulation CT study was suspicious for COVID pneumonia was tested with a nasopharyngeal swab, which proved positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection. No patients contracted COVID-19 during hospitalization for surgery or during RT treatment. Corticosteroid therapy was administered to all patients beginning on the 1st day of RT.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ experience during the COVID-19 pandemic showed that patients with HGG can be treated in the most effective manner without a compromise in safety. Careful selection criteria and a multidisciplinary evaluation are pivotal to assessing the optimal therapeutic strategy.