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Ronnie E. Baticulon, Michael C. Dewan, Nunthasiri Wittayanakorn, Philipp R. Aldana and Wirginia J. Maixner

OBJECTIVE

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.

METHODS

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.

RESULTS

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.

CONCLUSIONS

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.

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Michael C. Dewan, Ronnie E. Baticulon, Abbas Rattani, James M. Johnston Jr., Benjamin C. Warf and William Harkness

OBJECTIVE

The presence and capability of existing pediatric neurosurgical care worldwide is unknown. The objective of this study was to solicit the expertise of specialists to quantify the geographic representation of pediatric neurosurgeons, access to specialist care, and equipment and training needs globally.

METHODS

A mixed-question survey was sent to surgeon members of several international neurosurgical and general pediatric surgical societies via a web-based platform. Respondents answered questions on 5 categories: surgeon demographics and training, hospital and practice details, surgical workforce and access to neurosurgical care, training and equipment needs, and desire for international collaboration. Responses were anonymized and analyzed using Stata software.

RESULTS

A total of 459 surgeons from 76 countries responded. Pediatric neurosurgeons in high-income and upper-middle-income countries underwent formal pediatric training at a greater rate than surgeons in low- and lower-middle-income countries (89.5% vs 54.4%). There are an estimated 2297 pediatric neurosurgeons in practice globally, with 85.6% operating in high-income and upper-middle-income countries. In low- and lower-middle-income countries, roughly 330 pediatric neurosurgeons care for a total child population of 1.2 billion. In low-income countries in Africa, the density of pediatric neurosurgeons is roughly 1 per 30 million children. A higher proportion of patients in low- and lower-middle-income countries must travel > 2 hours to seek emergency neurosurgical care, relative to high-income countries (75.6% vs 33.6%, p < 0.001). Vast basic and essential training and equipment needs exist, particularly low- and lower-middle-income countries within Africa, South America, the Eastern Mediterranean, and South-East Asia. Eighty-nine percent of respondents demonstrated an interest in international collaboration for the purposes of pediatric neurosurgical capacity building.

CONCLUSIONS

Wide disparity in the access to pediatric neurosurgical care exists globally. In low- and lower-middle-income countries, wherein there exists the greatest burden of pediatric neurosurgical disease, there is a grossly insufficient presence of capable providers and equipped facilities. Neurosurgeons across income groups and geographic regions share a desire for collaboration and partnership.

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Michael C. Dewan, Abbas Rattani, Rania Mekary, Laurence J. Glancz, Ismaeel Yunusa, Ronnie E. Baticulon, Graham Fieggen, John C. Wellons III, Kee B. Park and Benjamin C. Warf

OBJECTIVE

Hydrocephalus is one of the most common brain disorders, yet a reliable assessment of the global burden of disease is lacking. The authors sought a reliable estimate of the prevalence and annual incidence of hydrocephalus worldwide.

METHODS

The authors performed a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to estimate the incidence of congenital hydrocephalus by WHO region and World Bank income level using the MEDLINE/PubMed and Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews databases. A global estimate of pediatric hydrocephalus was obtained by adding acquired forms of childhood hydrocephalus to the baseline congenital figures using neural tube defect (NTD) registry data and known proportions of posthemorrhagic and postinfectious cases. Adult forms of hydrocephalus were also examined qualitatively.

RESULTS

Seventy-eight articles were included from the systematic review, representative of all WHO regions and each income level. The pooled incidence of congenital hydrocephalus was highest in Africa and Latin America (145 and 316 per 100,000 births, respectively) and lowest in the United States/Canada (68 per 100,000 births) (p for interaction < 0.1). The incidence was higher in low- and middle-income countries (123 per 100,000 births; 95% CI 98–152 births) than in high-income countries (79 per 100,000 births; 95% CI 68–90 births) (p for interaction < 0.01). While likely representing an underestimate, this model predicts that each year, nearly 400,000 new cases of pediatric hydrocephalus will develop worldwide. The greatest burden of disease falls on the African, Latin American, and Southeast Asian regions, accounting for three-quarters of the total volume of new cases. The high crude birth rate, greater proportion of patients with postinfectious etiology, and higher incidence of NTDs all contribute to a case volume in low- and middle-income countries that outweighs that in high-income countries by more than 20-fold. Global estimates of adult and other forms of acquired hydrocephalus are lacking.

CONCLUSIONS

For the first time in a global model, the annual incidence of pediatric hydrocephalus is estimated. Low- and middle-income countries incur the greatest burden of disease, particularly those within the African and Latin American regions. Reliable incidence and burden figures for adult forms of hydrocephalus are absent in the literature and warrant specific investigation. A global effort to address hydrocephalus in regions with the greatest demand is imperative to reduce disease incidence, morbidity, mortality, and disparities of access to treatment.

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Michael C. Dewan, Abbas Rattani, Saksham Gupta, Ronnie E. Baticulon, Ya-Ching Hung, Maria Punchak, Amit Agrawal, Amos O. Adeleye, Mark G. Shrime, Andrés M. Rubiano, Jeffrey V. Rosenfeld and Kee B. Park

OBJECTIVE

Traumatic brain injury (TBI)—the “silent epidemic”—contributes to worldwide death and disability more than any other traumatic insult. Yet, TBI incidence and distribution across regions and socioeconomic divides remain unknown. In an effort to promote advocacy, understanding, and targeted intervention, the authors sought to quantify the case burden of TBI across World Health Organization (WHO) regions and World Bank (WB) income groups.

METHODS

Open-source epidemiological data on road traffic injuries (RTIs) were used to model the incidence of TBI using literature-derived ratios. First, a systematic review on the proportion of RTIs resulting in TBI was conducted, and a meta-analysis of study-derived proportions was performed. Next, a separate systematic review identified primary source studies describing mechanisms of injury contributing to TBI, and an additional meta-analysis yielded a proportion of TBI that is secondary to the mechanism of RTI. Then, the incidence of RTI as published by the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 was applied to these two ratios to generate the incidence and estimated case volume of TBI for each WHO region and WB income group.

RESULTS

Relevant articles and registries were identified via systematic review; study quality was higher in the high-income countries (HICs) than in the low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Sixty-nine million (95% CI 64–74 million) individuals worldwide are estimated to sustain a TBI each year. The proportion of TBIs resulting from road traffic collisions was greatest in Africa and Southeast Asia (both 56%) and lowest in North America (25%). The incidence of RTI was similar in Southeast Asia (1.5% of the population per year) and Europe (1.2%). The overall incidence of TBI per 100,000 people was greatest in North America (1299 cases, 95% CI 650–1947) and Europe (1012 cases, 95% CI 911–1113) and least in Africa (801 cases, 95% CI 732–871) and the Eastern Mediterranean (897 cases, 95% CI 771–1023). The LMICs experience nearly 3 times more cases of TBI proportionally than HICs.

CONCLUSIONS

Sixty-nine million (95% CI 64–74 million) individuals are estimated to suffer TBI from all causes each year, with the Southeast Asian and Western Pacific regions experiencing the greatest overall burden of disease. Head injury following road traffic collision is more common in LMICs, and the proportion of TBIs secondary to road traffic collision is likewise greatest in these countries. Meanwhile, the estimated incidence of TBI is highest in regions with higher-quality data, specifically in North America and Europe.

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Michael C. Dewan, Abbas Rattani, Ronnie E. Baticulon, Serena Faruque, Walter D. Johnson, Robert J. Dempsey, Michael M. Haglund, Blake C. Alkire, Kee B. Park, Benjamin C. Warf and Mark G. Shrime

OBJECTIVE

The global magnitude of neurosurgical disease is unknown. The authors sought to estimate the surgical and consultative proportion of diseases commonly encountered by neurosurgeons, as well as surgeon case volume and perceived workload.

METHODS

An electronic survey was sent to 193 neurosurgeons previously identified via a global surgeon mapping initiative. The survey consisted of three sections aimed at quantifying surgical incidence of neurological disease, consultation incidence, and surgeon demographic data. Surgeons were asked to estimate the proportion of 11 neurological disorders that, in an ideal world, would indicate either neurosurgical operation or neurosurgical consultation. Respondent surgeons indicated their confidence level in each estimate. Demographic and surgical practice characteristics—including case volume and perceived workload—were also captured.

RESULTS

Eighty-five neurosurgeons from 57 countries, representing all WHO regions and World Bank income levels, completed the survey. Neurological conditions estimated to warrant neurosurgical consultation with the highest frequency were brain tumors (96%), spinal tumors (95%), hydrocephalus (94%), and neural tube defects (92%), whereas stroke (54%), central nervous system infection (58%), and epilepsy (40%) carried the lowest frequency. Similarly, surgery was deemed necessary for an average of 88% cases of hydrocephalus, 82% of spinal tumors and neural tube defects, and 78% of brain tumors. Degenerative spine disease (42%), stroke (31%), and epilepsy (24%) were found to warrant surgical intervention less frequently. Confidence levels were consistently high among respondents (lower quartile > 70/100 for 90% of questions), and estimates did not vary significantly across WHO regions or among income levels. Surgeons reported performing a mean of 245 cases annually (median 190). On a 100-point scale indicating a surgeon’s perceived workload (0—not busy, 100—overworked), respondents selected a mean workload of 75 (median 79).

CONCLUSIONS

With a high level of confidence and strong concordance, neurosurgeons estimated that the vast majority of patients with central nervous system tumors, hydrocephalus, or neural tube defects mandate neurosurgical involvement. A significant proportion of other common neurological diseases, such as traumatic brain and spinal injury, vascular anomalies, and degenerative spine disease, demand the attention of a neurosurgeon—whether via operative intervention or expert counsel. These estimates facilitate measurement of the expected annual volume of neurosurgical disease globally.

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Faith C. Robertson, Jacob R. Lepard, Rania A. Mekary, Matthew C. Davis, Ismaeel Yunusa, William B. Gormley, Ronnie E. Baticulon, Muhammad Raji Mahmud, Basant K. Misra, Abbas Rattani, Michael C. Dewan and Kee B. Park

OBJECTIVE

Central nervous system (CNS) infections cause significant morbidity and mortality and often require neurosurgical intervention for proper diagnosis and treatment. However, neither the international burden of CNS infection, nor the current capacity of the neurosurgical workforce to treat these diseases is well characterized. The objective of this study was to elucidate the global incidence of surgically relevant CNS infection, highlighting geographic areas for targeted improvement in neurosurgical capacity.

METHODS

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis were performed to capture studies published between 1990 and 2016. PubMed, EMBASE, and Cochrane databases were searched using variations of terms relating to CNS infection and epidemiology (incidence, prevalence, burden, case fatality, etc.). To deliver a geographic breakdown of disease, results were pooled using the random-effects model and stratified by WHO region and national income status for the different CNS infection types.

RESULTS

The search yielded 10,906 studies, 154 of which were used in the final qualitative analysis. A meta-analysis was performed to compute disease incidence by using data extracted from 71 of the 154 studies. The remaining 83 studies were excluded from the quantitative analysis because they did not report incidence. A total of 508,078 cases of CNS infections across all studies were included, with a total sample size of 130,681,681 individuals. Mean patient age was 35.8 years (range: newborn to 95 years), and the male/female ratio was 1:1.74. Among the 71 studies with incidence data, 39 were based in high-income countries, 25 in middle-income countries, and 7 in low-income countries. The pooled incidence of studied CNS infections was consistently highest in low-income countries, followed by middle- and then high-income countries. Regarding WHO regions, Africa had the highest pooled incidence of bacterial meningitis (65 cases/100,000 people), neurocysticercosis (650/100,000), and tuberculous spondylodiscitis (55/100,000), whereas Southeast Asia had the highest pooled incidence of intracranial abscess (49/100,000), and Europe had the highest pooled incidence of nontuberculous vertebral spondylodiscitis (5/100,000). Overall, few articles reported data on deaths associated with infection. The limited case fatality data revealed the highest case fatality for tuberculous meningitis/spondylodiscitis (21.1%) and the lowest for neurocysticercosis (5.5%). In all five disease categories, funnel plots assessing for publication bias were asymmetrical and suggested that the results may underestimate the incidence of disease.

CONCLUSIONS

This systematic review and meta-analysis approximates the global incidence of neurosurgically relevant infectious diseases. These results underscore the disproportionate burden of CNS infections in the developing world, where there is a tremendous demand to provide training and resources for high-quality neurosurgical care.