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Chinmaya Dash, Raghav Singla, Kanwaljeet Garg, and Bhawani Shanker Sharma

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Chinmaya Dash, Tejas Venkataram, Nishant Goyal, Jitender Chaturvedi, Amol Raheja, Raghav Singla, Jayesh Sardhara, and Ravi Gupta

OBJECTIVE

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced medical professionals throughout the world to adapt to the changing medical scenario. The objective of this survey was to assess the change in neurosurgical training in India following the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS

Between May 7, 2020, and May 16, 2020, a validated questionnaire was circulated among neurosurgical residents across India by social media, regarding changes in the department’s functioning, patient interaction, surgical exposure, changes in academics, and fears and apprehensions associated with the pandemic. The responses were kept anonymous and were analyzed for changes during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to before the pandemic.

RESULTS

A total of 118 residents from 29 neurosurgical training programs across 17 states/union territories of the country gave their responses to the survey questionnaire. The survey revealed that the surgical exposure of neurosurgical residents has drastically reduced since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, from an average of 39.86 surgeries performed/assisted per month (median 30) to 12.31 per month (median 10), representing a decrease of 67.50%. The number of academic sessions has fallen from a median of 5 per week to 2 per week. The survey uncovered the lack of universal guidelines and homogeneity regarding preoperative COVID-19 testing. The survey also reveals reluctance toward detailed patient examinations since the COVID-19 outbreak. The majority of respondents felt that the COVID-19 pandemic will hamper their operative and clinical skills. Fear of rescheduling or deferring of licensing examinations was significantly higher among those closest to the examination (p = 0.002).

CONCLUSIONS

The adverse impact of the pandemic on neurosurgical training needs to be addressed. While ensuring the safety of the residents, institutes and neurosurgical societies/bodies must take it upon themselves to ensure that their residents continue to learn and develop neurosurgical skills during these difficult times.

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Sushanta K. Sahoo, Sivashanmugam Dhandapani, Apinderpreet Singh, Chandrashekhar Gendle, Madhivanan Karthigeyan, Pravin Salunke, Ashish Aggarwal, Navneet Singla, Raghav Singla, Manjul Tripathi, Rajesh Chhabra, Sandeep Mohindra, Manoj Kumar Tewari, Manju Mohanty, Hemant Bhagat, Arunaloke Chakrabarti, and Sunil Kumar Gupta

OBJECTIVE

COVID-19 has affected surgical practice globally. Treating neurosurgical patients with the restrictions imposed by the pandemic is challenging in institutions with shared patient areas. The present study was performed to assess the changing patterns of neurosurgical cases, the efficacy of repeated testing before surgery, and the prevalence of COVID-19 in asymptomatic neurosurgical inpatients.

METHODS

Cases of non–trauma-related neurosurgical patients treated at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER) before and during the COVID-19 pandemic were reviewed. During the pandemic, all patients underwent a nasopharyngeal swab reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction test to detect COVID-19 at admission. Patients who needed immediate intervention were surgically treated following a single COVID-19 test, while stable patients who initially tested negative for COVID-19 were subjected to repeated testing at least 5 days after the first test and within 48 hours prior to the planned surgery. The COVID-19 positivity rate was compared with the local period prevalence. The number of patients who tested positive at the second test, following a negative first test, was used to determine the probable number of people who could have become infected during the surgical procedure without second testing.

RESULTS

Of the total 1769 non–trauma-related neurosurgical patients included in this study, a mean of 337.2 patients underwent surgery per month before COVID-19, while a mean of 184.2 patients (54.6% of pre–COVID-19 capacity) underwent surgery per month during the pandemic period, when COVID-19 cases were on the rise in India. There was a significant increase in the proportion of patients undergoing surgery for a ruptured aneurysm, stroke, hydrocephalus, and cerebellar tumors, while the number of patients seeking surgery for chronic benign diseases declined. At the first COVID-19 test, 4 patients (0.48%) tested were found to have the disease, a proportion 3.7 times greater than that found in the local community. An additional 5 patients tested positive at the time of the second COVID-19 test, resulting in an overall inpatient period prevalence of 1%, in contrast to a 0.2% national cumulative caseload. It is possible that COVID-19 was prevented in approximately 67.4 people every month by using double testing.

CONCLUSIONS

COVID-19 has changed the pattern of neurosurgical procedures, with acute cases dominating the practice. Despite the fact that the pandemic has not yet reached its peak in India, COVID-19 has been detected 3.7 times more often in asymptomatic neurosurgical inpatients than in the local community, even with single testing. Double testing displays an incremental value by disclosing COVID-19 overall in 1 in 100 inpatients and thus averting its spread through neurosurgical services.

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Intekhab Alam, Varidh Katiyar, Revanth Goda, Harish Chandrappa, Raghav Singla, and Ravi Sharma