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Paige Lundy, Christopher Miller and Sarah Woodrow

OBJECTIVE

It is estimated that nearly 47 million preventable deaths occur annually due the current worldwide deficit in surgical care; subsequently, the World Health Organization resolved unanimously to endorse a decree to address this deficit. Neurosurgeons from industrialized nations can help address the needs of underserved regions. Exposure during training is critical for young neurosurgeons to gain experience in international work and to cultivate career-long interest. Here, the authors explore the opinions of current residents and interest in global neurosurgery as well as the current state of international involvement, opportunities, and barriers in North American residency training.

METHODS

An internet-based questionnaire was developed using the authors’ university’s REDCap database and distributed to neurosurgical residents from US ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education)–approved programs. Questions focused on the resident’s program’s involvement and logistics regarding international rotations and the resident’s interest level in pursuing these opportunities.

RESULTS

A 15% response rate was obtained from a broad range of training locations. Twenty-nine percent of respondents reported that their residency program offered elective training opportunities in developing countries, and 7.6% reported having participated in these programs. This cohort unanimously felt that the international rotation was a beneficial experience and agreed that they would do it again. Of those who had not participated, 81.3% reported interest or strong interest in international rotations.

CONCLUSIONS

The authors’ results indicate that, despite a high level of desire for involvement in international rotations, there is limited opportunity for residents to become involved. Barriers such as funding and rotation approval were recognized. It is the authors’ hope that governing organizations and residency programs will work to break down these barriers and help establish rotations for trainees to learn abroad and begin to join the cause of meeting global surgical needs. To meet overarching international neurosurgical needs, neurosurgeons of the future must be trained in global neurosurgery.

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Christopher Miller, Paige Lundy and Sarah Woodrow

OBJECTIVE

The burden of neurosurgical disease in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) has emerged as a significant factor in global health. Additionally, calls have been growing for first-world neurosurgeons to find ways to help address the international need. Allowing residents to pursue international elective opportunities in LMICs can help alleviate the burden while also providing unique educational opportunities. However, pursuing international work while in residency requires overcoming significant logistical and regulatory barriers. To better understand the general perspectives, perceived barriers, and current availability of international rotations, a survey was sent out to program directors at Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME)–approved residencies.

METHODS

An anonymous survey was sent to all program directors at ACGME-approved residencies. The survey included branch points designed to separate programs into program directors with an existing international rotation, those interested in starting an international rotation, and those not interested in starting an international rotation. All participants were asked about the perceived value of international training and whether residents should be encouraged to train internationally on a 5-point Likert scale. The survey ended with open-response fields, encouraging thoughts on international rotations and overcoming barriers.

RESULTS

Forty-four percent of recipients (50/113) responded; of the 50 programs, 13 had an established international elective. Of programs without a rotation, 54% (20/37) noted that they were interested in starting an international elective. Key barriers to starting international training included funding, the Residency Review Committee approval process, call conflicts, and the establishment of international partners. Perceived learning opportunities included cultural awareness, unique pathology, ingenuity, physical examination skills, and diagnosis skills. The majority of respondents thought that international rotations were valuable (74%, 37/50) and that residents should be encouraged to pursue international educational opportunities (70%, 35/50). Program directors who maintained an existing international rotation or were interested in starting an international elective were more likely to perceive international rotations as valuable.

CONCLUSIONS

Recent calls from The Lancet Commission on Global Surgery for increased surgical interventions in the developing world have been expanded by neurosurgical leadership to include neurosurgical diseases. Resident involvement in international electives represents an opportunity to increase treatment of neurosurgical disease in LMICs and develop the next generation of international neurosurgeons. To increase opportunities for residents at international sites, attention should be focused on overcoming the practical and regulatory barriers at a local and national level.

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Paige Lundy, Christian Kaufman, David Garcia, Michael D. Partington and Paul A. Grabb

OBJECTIVE

The authors conducted a retrospective analysis of a consecutive series of children with intracranial subdural empyemas (SEs) and epidural abscesses (EAs) to highlight the important clinical difference between these two entities. They describe the delays and pitfalls in achieving accurate diagnoses and make treatment recommendations based on clinical and imaging findings.

METHODS

They reviewed their experience with children who had presented with intracranial SE and/or EA in the period from January 2013 to May 2018. They recorded presenting complaint, date of presentation, age, neurological examination findings, time from presentation to diagnosis, any errors in initial image interpretation, timing from diagnosis to surgical intervention, type of surgical intervention, neurological outcome, and microbiology data. They aimed to assess possible causes of any delay in diagnosis or surgical intervention.

RESULTS

Sixteen children with SE and/or EA had undergone evaluation by the authors’ neurosurgical service since 2013. Children with SE (n = 14) presented with unmistakable evidence of CNS involvement with only one exception. Children with EA alone (n = 2) had no evidence of CNS dysfunction. All children older than 1 year of age had sinusitis.

The time from initial presentation to a physician to diagnosis ranged from 0 to 21 days with a mean and median of 4.5 and 6 days, respectively. The time from diagnosis to neurosurgical intervention ranged from 0 to 14 days with a mean and median of 3 and 1 day, respectively. Delay in treatment was due to misinterpretation of images, a failure to perform timely imaging, progression on imaging as an indication for surgical intervention, or the managing clinician’s preference. Among the 14 cases with SE, initial imaging studies in 6 were not interpreted as showing SE. Four SE collections were dictated as epidural even on MRI. The only fatality was associated with no surgical intervention. Endoscopic sinus surgery was not associated with reducing the need for repeat craniotomy.

CONCLUSIONS

Regardless of the initial imaging interpretation, any child presenting with focal neurological deficit or seizures and sinusitis should be assumed to have an SE or meningitis, and a careful review of high-resolution imaging, ideally MRI with contrast, should be performed. If an extraaxial collection is identified, surgical drainage should be performed expeditiously. Neurosurgical involvement and evaluation are imperative to achieve timely diagnoses and to guide management in these critically ill children.