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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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Joseph S. Domino, Shane Weindel and Sarah Woodrow

Intramuscular myxomas (IMMs) are rare benign tumors of mesenchymal origin that are most often located in large skeletal muscles, particularly of the thigh. They have also been reported within the paraspinal musculature and should be considered in the differential diagnosis of a paraspinal mass. These lesions can cause neurological symptoms due to mass effect. This is a report of a 52-year-old man with multiple paraspinal tumors that exhibited concerning growth on serial imaging studies. To the authors’ knowledge, this represents the first report of a patient with multiple paraspinal myxomas. CT-guided biopsy followed by surgical excision of the largest mass was performed. Histopathological analysis was consistent with an IMM. Patients with multiple IMMs often have an underlying genetic syndrome such as Mazabraud syndrome, McCune-Albright syndrome, or Carney complex. Despite variable growth patterns and associations with genetic syndromes, multiple IMMs have had no documented cases of malignant transformation into myxoid sarcoma; therefore, surgical excision should be considered based on a patient’s individual symptoms.

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Sarah I. Woodrow, Mark Bernstein and M. Christopher Wallace

Object. Patient care and educational experience have long formed a dichotomy in modern surgical training. In neurosurgery, achieving a delicate balance between these two factors has been challenged by recent trends in the field including increased subspecialization, emerging technologies, and decreased resident work hours. In this study the authors evaluated the experience profiles of neurosurgical trainees at a large Canadian academic center and the safety of their practice on patient care.

Methods. Two hundred ninety-three patients who underwent surgery for intracranial aneurysm clipping between 1993 and 1996 were selected. Prospective data were available in 167 cases, allowing the operating surgeon to be identified. Postoperative data and follow-up data were gathered retrospectively to measure patient outcomes. In 167 cases, a total of 183 aneurysms were clipped, the majority (91%) by neurosurgical trainees. Trainees performed dissections on aneurysms that were predominantly small (<1.5 cm in diameter; 77% of patients) and ruptured (64% of patients). Overall mortality rates for the patients treated by the trainee group were 4% (two of 52 patients) and 9% (nine of 100 patients) for unruptured and ruptured aneurysm cases, respectively. Patient outcomes were comparable to those reported in historical data. Staff members appeared to be primary surgeons in a select subset of cases.

Conclusions. Neurosurgical trainees at this institution are exposed to a broad spectrum of intracranial aneurysms, although some case selection does occur. With careful supervision, intracranial aneurysm surgery can be safely delegated to trainees without compromising patient outcomes. Current trends in practice patterns in neurosurgery mandate ongoing monitoring of residents' operative experience while ensuring continued excellence in patient care.