There are limited data on the pediatric neurosurgical workforce in Asia and Australasia. The training and clinical practice of pediatric neurosurgeons need to be characterized in order to identify gaps in knowledge and skills, thereby establishing a framework from which to elevate pediatric neurosurgical care in the region.
An online survey for pediatric neurosurgeons was created in REDCap (Research Electronic Database Capture), collecting demographic information and data on pediatric neurosurgical training and clinical practice. The link to answer the survey was sent to the mailing lists of the Asian Australasian Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery and the Japanese Society for Pediatric Neurosurgery, disseminated during the 2019 Asian Australasian Pediatric Neurosurgery Congress, and spread through social media. The survey was open to neurosurgeons who operated on patients ≤ 18 years old in Asian Australasian countries, whether or not they had completed fellowship training in pediatric neurosurgery. Descriptive statistics were computed and tabulated. Data were stratified and compared based on surgeon training and World Bank income group.
A total of 155 valid survey responses were analyzed, representing neurosurgeons from 21 countries. A total of 107 (69%) considered themselves pediatric neurosurgeons, of whom 66 (43%) had completed pediatric neurosurgery training. Neurosurgeons in East Asia commonly undergo a fellowship in their home countries, whereas the rest train mostly in North America, Europe, and Australia. A majority (89%) had operating privileges, and subspecialty pediatric training usually lasted from 6 months to 2 years. On average, trained pediatric neurosurgeons perform a higher number of pediatric neurosurgical operations per year compared with nonpediatric-trained respondents (131 ± 129 vs 56 ± 64 [mean ± SD], p = 0.0001). The mean number of total neurosurgical operations per year is similar for both groups (184 ± 129 vs 178 ± 142 [mean ± SD], p = 0.80). Respondents expressed the desire to train further in pediatric epilepsy, spasticity, vascular malformations, craniofacial disorders, and brain tumors.
Both pediatric and general neurosurgeons provide neurosurgical care to children in Asia and Australasia. There is a need to increase pediatric neurosurgery fellowship programs in the region. Skill sets and training needs in pediatric neurosurgery vary depending on the country’s economic status and between pediatric-trained and nonpediatric-trained surgeons.