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Ravi Sharma, Manoj Phalak, Vivek Tandon, and Ashok K. Mahapatra

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Amol Raheja, Shashwat Mishra, Kanwaljeet Garg, Varidh Katiyar, Ravi Sharma, Vivek Tandon, Revanth Goda, Ashish Suri, and Shashank S. Kale

OBJECTIVE

Extracorporeal telescopes (exoscopes) have been the latest addition to the neurosurgeons’ armamentarium, acting as a bridge between operating microscopes and endoscopes. However, to the authors’ knowledge there are no published preclinical laboratory studies of the accuracy, efficiency, and dexterity of neurosurgical training for the use of 2D or 3D exoscopes compared with microscopes.

METHODS

In a controlled experimental setup, 22 participating neurosurgery residents performed simple (2D) and complex (3D) motor tasks with three visualization tools in alternating sequence: a 2D exoscope, 3D exoscope, and microscope, using a block randomization model based on the neurosurgeons’ prior training experience (novice, intermediate, and senior: n = 6, 12, and 4, respectively). Performance scores (PS; including error and efficiency scores) and dexterity scores (DS) were calculated to objectify the accuracy, efficiency, and finesse of task performance. Repeated measures ANOVA analysis was used to compare the PS, DS, and cumulative scores (CS) of candidates using the three visualization aids. Bland-Altman plots and intraclass correlation coefficients were generated to quantify intraobserver and interobserver agreement for DS. Subgroup analysis was performed to assess the impact of participants’ prior training. A postexercise survey was conducted to assess the comfort level (on a 10-point analog scale) of the participants while using each visualization tool for performing the suturing task.

RESULTS

PS, DS, and CS were significantly impacted by the visualization tool utilized for 2D motor tasks (p < 0.001 for each), with the microscope faring better than the 2D exoscope (p = 0.04) or 3D exoscope (p = 0.008). The PS for the 3D object transfer task was significantly influenced by the visualization aid used (p = 0.007), with the microscope and 3D exoscope faring better than the 2D exoscope (p = 0.04 for both). The visualization instrument used significantly affected the DS and CS for the suturing task (p < 0.001 for both), with the microscope again scoring better than the 2D exoscope (p < 0.001) or 3D exoscope (p = 0.005). The impact of the visualization aid was more apparent in participants with a shorter duration of residency (novice, p = 0.03; intermediate, p = 0.0004). Participants also felt the greatest operational comfort while working with a microscope, 3D exoscope, and 2D exoscope, in that order (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS

Compared with 3D and 2D exoscopes, an operating microscope provides better dexterity and performance and a greater operational comfort level for neurosurgeons while they are performing 2D or 3D motor tasks. For performing complex 3D motor tasks, 3D exoscopes offer selective advantages in dexterity, performance, and operational comfort level over 2D exoscopes. The relative impact of visualization aids on surgical proficiency gradually weakens as the participants’ residency duration increases.

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Varidh Katiyar, Ravi Sharma, Vivek Tandon, Revanth Goda, Akshay Ganeshkumar, Ashish Suri, P. Sarat Chandra, and Shashank S. Kale

OBJECTIVE

The authors aimed to evaluate the impact of age and frailty on the surgical outcomes of patients with glioblastoma (GBM) and to assess caregivers’ perceptions regarding postdischarge care and challenges faced in the developing country of India.

METHODS

This was a retrospective study of patients with histopathologically proven GBM from 2009 to 2018. Data regarding the clinical and radiological characteristics as well as surgical outcomes were collected from the institute’s electronic database. Taking Indian demographics into account, the authors used the cutoff age of 60 years to define patients as elderly. Frailty was estimated using the 11-point modified frailty index (mFI-11). Patients were divided into three groups: robust, with an mFI score of 0; moderately frail, with an mFI score of 1 or 2; and severely frail, with an mFI score ≥ 3. A questionnaire-based survey was done to assess caregivers’ perceptions about postdischarge care.

RESULTS

Of the 276 patients, there were 93 (33.7%) elderly patients and 183 (66.3%) young or middle-aged patients. The proportion of severely frail patients was significantly more in the elderly group (38.7%) than in the young or middle-aged group (28.4%) (p < 0.001). The authors performed univariate and multivariate analysis of associations of different short-term outcomes with age, sex, frailty, and Charlson Comorbidity Index. On the multivariate analysis, only frailty was found to be a significant predictor for in-hospital mortality, postoperative complications, and length of hospital and ICU stay (p < 0.001). On Cox regression analysis, the severely frail group was found to have a significantly lower overall survival rate compared with the moderately frail (p = 0.001) and robust groups (p < 0.001). With the increase in frailty, there was a concomitant increase in the requirement for readmissions (p = 0.003), postdischarge specialist care (p = 0.001), and help from extrafamilial sources (p < 0.001). Greater dissatisfaction with psychosocial and financial support among the caregivers of severely frail patients was seen as they found themselves ill-equipped to provide postdischarge care at home (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

Frailty is a better predictor of poorer surgical outcomes than chronological age in terms of duration of hospital and ICU stay, postoperative complications, and in-hospital mortality. It also adds to the psychosocial and financial burdens of the caregivers, making postdischarge care challenging.

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Amol Raheja, Nitish Agarwal, Sarita Mohapatra, Vivek Tandon, Sachin Anil Borkar, P. Sarat Chandra, Shashank S. Kale, and Ashish Suri

The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted healthcare systems globally. The need of the hour is the development of effective strategies for protecting the lives of healthcare providers (HCPs) and judicious triage for optimal utilization of human and hospital resources. During this pandemic, neurosurgery, like other specialties, must transform, innovate, and adopt new guidelines and safety protocols for reducing the risk of cross-infection of HCPs without compromising patient care. In this article, the authors discuss the current neurosurgical practice guidelines at a high-volume tertiary care referral hospital in India and compare them with international guidelines and global consensus for neurosurgery practice in the COVID-19 era. Additionally, the authors highlight some of the modifications incorporated into their clinical practice, including those for stratification of neurosurgical cases, patient triaging based on COVID-19 testing, optimal manpower management, infrastructure reorganization, evolving modules for resident training, and innovations in operating guidelines. The authors recommend the use of their blueprint for stratification of neurosurgical cases, including their protocol for algorithmic patient triage and management and their template for manpower allocation to COVID-19 duty, as a replicable model for efficient healthcare delivery.

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Kanwaljeet Garg, Ravi Sharma, Amol Raheja, Vivek Tandon, Varidh Katiyar, Chinmaya Dash, Rishi Bhatnagar, Mohan Kumar Khullar, Bharath Raju, Anil Nanda, and Shashank S. Kale

OBJECTIVE

Despite the rising trend of medicolegal challenges in India, there is an absolute dearth of literature from India on this issue. The authors conducted a survey, to their knowledge a first of its kind, to assess the perceptions of Indian neurosurgeons about the medicolegal challenges faced in everyday practice.

METHODS

An anonymous online survey performed using Google Forms was widely circulated among neurosurgeons practicing in India via email and social media platforms. The questionnaire consisted of 38 questions covering the various aspects of medicolegal issues involved in neurosurgery practice.

RESULTS

A total of 221 survey responses were received, out of which 214 responses were included in the final analysis, barring 7 responders who had no work experience in India. The respondents were categorized according to their working arrangements and work experience. Out of all of the respondents, 20 (9.3%) had ≥ 1 malpractice suits filed against them. More than 90% of the respondents believed that malpractice suits are on the rise in India. Almost half of the respondents believed the advent of teleconsultation is further compounding the risk of malpractice suits, and 66.4% of respondents felt that they were inadequately trained during residency to deal with medicolegal issues. Most respondents (88.8%) felt that neurosurgeons working in the government sector had lesser chances of facing litigations in comparison to those working in the private sector. The practice of obtaining video proof of consent was more commonly reported by respondents working in freelancing and private settings (45.1%) and those with multiple affiliations (61.3%) compared to respondents practicing in government settings (22.8%) (p < 0.001). Neurosurgeons working in the private sector were more likely to alter management and refer sick patients to higher-volume treatment centers to avoid malpractice suits than their government counterparts (p = 0.043 and 0.006, respectively). The practices pertaining to legal preparedness were also found to be significantly higher among the respondents from the private sector (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS

This survey highlights the apprehensions of neurosurgeons in India with regard to rising malpractice suits and the subsequent increase of defensive neurosurgical practices, especially in the private sector. A stronger legal framework for providing for quick redress of patient complaints, while deterring frivolous malpractice suits, can go a long way to allay these fears. There is a dire need for systematic training of neurosurgeons regarding legal preparedness, which should begin during residency.