Pediatric Appendicitis Severity in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: A Retrospective Cohort Analysis

Acute appendicitis is a common pediatric surgical emergency; however, there are few grading systems to assign disease severity. The American Association for the Surgery of Trauma (AAST) recently developed a grading system for a variety of emergency surgical conditions, including appendicitis. The severity of acute appendicitis in younger patients in KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) is unknown. We aimed to describe the disease severity in this patient population using the AAST grading system hypothesizing that the AAST grade would correlate with morbidity, management type, and duration of stay.
Single institutional review of patients <18 years old with a final diagnosis of acute appendicitis during 2010-2016 in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, was performed. Demographics, physiologic and symptom data, procedural details, postoperative complications, and Clavien-Dindo classification were abstracted. AAST grades were generated based on intraoperative findings. Summary, univariate, and nominal logistic regression analyses were performed to compare AAST grade and outcomes.
A total of 401 patients were identified with median [IQR] age of 11 [5-13], 65% male. Appendectomy was performed in all patients; 2.4% laparoscopic, 37.6% limited incision, and 60% midline laparotomy. Complications occurred in 41.6%, most commonly unplanned relaparotomy (22.4%), surgical site infection (8.9%), pneumonia (7.2%), and acute renal failure (2.9%). Complication rate and median length of stay increased with greater AAST grade (all p < 0.001). AAST grade was independently associated with increased risk of complications.
Pediatric appendicitis is a morbid disease in a developing middle-income country. The AAST grading system is generalizable and accurately corresponds with management strategies as well as key clinical outcomes.

Adult liver transplantation in Johannesburg, South Africa (2004 – 2016): Balancing good outcomes, constrained resources and limited donors

Background. Liver transplantation is the standard of care for the treatment of liver failure worldwide, yet millions of people living in sub-Saharan Africa remain without access to these services. South Africa (SA) has two liver transplant centres, one in Cape Town and the other in Johannesburg, where Wits Donald Gordon Medical Centre (WDGMC) started an adult liver transplant programme in 2004.

Objectives. To describe the outcomes of the adult liver transplant programme at WDGMC.

Methods. This was a retrospective review of all adult orthotopic liver transplants performed at WDGMC from 16 August 2004 to 30 June 2016 with a minimum follow-up of 6 months. The primary outcome was recipient and graft survival and the effect of covariates on survival. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis included all adults who underwent their first transplant for end-stage liver disease (ESLD) (N=275). Proportional hazards regression analysis using hazard ratios (HRs) was conducted to determine which covariates were associated with a significantly increased risk of mortality.

Results. A total of 297 deceased-donor liver transplants were performed during the study period; 19/297 (6.4%) were for acute liver failure (ALF) and the remainder were for ESLD. The median age of recipients was 51 years (interquartile range 41 – 59), and two-thirds were male. The most common cause of ESLD was primary sclerosing cholangitis. The median follow-up was 3.2 years, and recipient survival was characterised in the following intervals: 90 days = 87.6% (95% confidence interval (CI) 83.1 – 91.0), 1 year = 81.7% (95% CI 76.6 – 85.8), and 5 years = 71.0% (95% CI 64.5 – 76.5). Allograft survival was similar: 90 days = 85.8% (95% CI 81.1 – 89.4), 1 year = 81.0% (95% CI 75.8 – 85.2), and 5 years = 69.1% (95% CI 62.6 – 74.7). The most significant covariates that impacted on mortality were postoperative biliary leaks (HR 2.0 (95% CI 1.05 – 3.80)), recipient age >60 years at time of transplant (HR 2.06 (95% CI 1.06 – 3.99)), theatre time >8 hours (HR 3.13 (95% CI 1.79 – 5.48)), and hepatic artery thrombosis (HR 5.58 (95% CI 3.09 – 10.08)). The most common infectious cause of death was invasive fungal infection.

Conclusions. This study demonstrates that outcomes of the adult orthotopic liver transplant programme at WDGMC are comparable with international transplant centres. Management of biliary complications, early hepatic artery thrombosis and post-transplant infections needs to be improved. Access to liver transplantation services is still extremely limited, but can be improved by addressing the national shortage of deceased donors and establishing a national regulatory body for solid-organ transplantation in SA.

Fellowship exit examination in orthopaedic surgery in the commonwealth countries of Australia, UK, South Africa and Canada. Are they comparable and equivalent? A perspective on the requirements for medical migration

nternational migration of healthcare professionals has increased substantially in recent decades. In order to practice medicine in the recipient country, International Medical Graduates (IMG) are required to fulfil the requirements of their new countries medical registration authorities. The purpose of this project was to compare the final fellowship exit examination in Orthopaedic Surgery for the UK, Australia, Canada and South Africa. The curriculum of the Australian Orthopaedic Association (SET) was selected as a baseline reference. The competencies and technical modules specified in the training syllabus, as well as the specifics of the final fellowship examination as outlined in SET, were then compared between countries. Of the nine competencies outlined in SET, the curricula of the UK, South Africa and Canada were all compatible with the Australian syllabus, and covered 97.7%, 86% and 93%, respectively, of all competencies and sub-items. The final fellowship examinations of Australia, South Africa and the UK were all highly similar in format and content. The examination in Canada was substantially different, and had two written sessions but combined the oral and clinical component into a structured OSCE using standardized patients and the component included unmanned stations. There were no significant differences for completion certificate of training and/or board certification observed between these countries. The results of this study strongly suggest that core and technical competencies outlined in the training and education curriculum and the final fellowship examination in Orthopaedic Surgery in Australia, South Africa and the UK are compatible. Between country reciprocal recognition of these fellowship examinations should not only be considered by the relevant Colleges, but should also be regulated by the individual countries health practitioner registration boards and governing bodies.

Global Unmet Needs in Cardiac Surgery.

More than 6 billion people live outside industrialized countries and have insufficient access to cardiac surgery. Given the recently confirmed high prevailing mortality for rheumatic heart disease in many of these countries together with increasing numbers of patients needing interventions for lifestyle diseases due to an accelerating epidemiological transition, a significant need for cardiac surgery could be assumed. Yet, need estimates were largely based on extrapolated screening studies while true service levels remained unknown. A multi-author effort representing 16 high-, middle-, and low-income countries was undertaken to narrow the need assessment for cardiac surgery including rheumatic and lifestyle cardiac diseases as well as congenital heart disease on the basis of existing data deduction. Actual levels of cardiac surgery were determined in each of these countries on the basis of questionnaires, national databases, or annual reports of national societies. Need estimates range from 200 operations per million in low-income countries that are nonendemic for rheumatic heart disease to >1,000 operations per million in high-income countries representing the end of the epidemiological transition. Actually provided levels of cardiac surgery range from 0.5 per million in the assessed low- and lower-middle income countries (average 107 ± 113 per million; representing a population of 1.6 billion) to 500 in the upper-middle-income countries (average 270 ± 163 per million representing a population of 1.9 billion). By combining need estimates with the assessment of de facto provided levels of cardiac surgery, it emerged that a significant degree of underdelivery of often lifesaving open heart surgery does not only prevail in low-income countries but is also disturbingly high in middle-income countries.

Maternal and perinatal adverse outcomes in women with pre-eclampsia cared for at facility-level in South Africa: a prospective cohort study.

Hypertensive disorders of pregnancy contribute to 14% of all maternal deaths, the majority of which occur in low- and middle-income countries. The aim of the study was to describe the maternal and perinatal clinical outcomes of women with pre-eclampsia living in middle- and low-income countries.The study was a prospective observational study of women with pre-eclampsia (n = 1547, 42 twin pregnancies) at three South African tertiary facilities. Using stepwise logistic regression model area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) values, the association between maternal baseline and admission characteristics and risk of adverse outcomes was evaluated. Main outcome measures were eclampsia, kidney injury and perinatal death.In 1547 women with pre-eclampsia, 16 (1%) died, 147 (9.5%) had eclampsia, four (0.3%) had a stroke and 272 (17.6%) had kidney injury. Of the 1589 births, there were 332 (21.0%) perinatal deaths; of these, 281 (84.5%) were stillbirths. Of 1308 live births, 913 (70.0%) delivered <37 completed weeks and 544 (41.7%) delivered <34 weeks' gestation. Young maternal age (AUROC = 0.76, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.71-0.80) and low Body Mass Index BMI (AUROC 0.65, 95% CI = 0.59-0.69) were significant predictors of eclampsia. Highest systolic blood pressure had the strongest association with kidney injury, (AUROC = 0.64, 95% CI = 0.60-0.68). Early gestation at admission was most strongly associated with perinatal death (AUROC = 0.81, 95% CI = 0.77-0.84).The incidence of pre-eclampsia complications, perinatal death and preterm delivery in women referred to tertiary care in South Africa was much higher than reported in other low- and middle-income studies and despite access to tertiary care interventions. Teenage mothers and those with low BMI were at highest risk of eclampsia. This information could be used to inform guidelines, the research agenda and policy.

The Cape Town Declaration on Access to Cardiac Surgery in the Developing World.

Twelve years after cardiologists and cardiac surgeons from all over the world issued the ‘Drakensberg Declaration on the Control of Rheumatic Fever and Rheumatic Heart Disease in Africa’, calling on the world community to address the prevention and treatment of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) through improving living conditions, to develop pilot programmes at selected sites for control of rheumatic fever and RHD, and to periodically review progress made and challenges that remain, RHD still accounts for a major proportion of cardiovascular diseases in children and young adults in low- and middle-income countries, where more than 80% of the world population live. Globally equal in prevalence to human immunodeficiency virus infection, RHD affects 33 million people worldwide. Prevention efforts have been important but have failed to eradicate the disease. At the present time, the only effective treatment for symptomatic RHD is open heart surgery, yet that life-saving cardiac surgery is woefully absent in many endemic regions. In this declaration, we propose a framework structure to create a co-ordinated and transparent international alliance to address this inequality.

Ethics of Burn Wound Care in a Low-Middle Income Country.

This review focuses on burn care in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). It attempts to put the burden of disease in perspective by showing that burn care is under-resourced across the spectrum of LMICs and by interrogating the ethical dilemmas and challenges that staff face in caring for burn patients in this environment, with a focus on South Africa. More specifically, it will attempt to address the following issues: the threshold for utilizing the intensive care unit (ICU), how to balance treatment against cost, the percentage burn considered survivable and how it should be determined, the use of skin from both cadavers and living related donors, and the appropriate ethical guidelines for LMICs.

International Study of the Epidemiology of Paediatric Trauma: PAPSA Research Study.

Trauma is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The literature on paediatric trauma epidemiology in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is limited. This study aims to gather epidemiological data on paediatric trauma.

This is a multicentre prospective cohort study of paediatric trauma admissions, over 1 month, from 15 paediatric surgery centres in 11 countries. Epidemiology, mechanism of injury, injuries sustained, management, morbidity and mortality data were recorded. Statistical analysis compared LMICs and high-income countries (HICs).

There were 1377 paediatric trauma admissions over 31 days; 1295 admissions across ten LMIC centres and 84 admissions across five HIC centres. Median number of admissions per centre was 15 in HICs and 43 in LMICs. Mean age was 7 years, and 62% were boys. Common mechanisms included road traffic accidents (41%), falls (41%) and interpersonal violence (11%). Frequent injuries were lacerations, fractures, head injuries and burns. Intra-abdominal and intra-thoracic injuries accounted for 3 and 2% of injuries. The mechanisms and injuries sustained differed significantly between HICs and LMICs. Median length of stay was 1 day and 19% required an operative intervention; this did not differ significantly between HICs and LMICs. No mortality and morbidity was reported from HICs. In LMICs, in-hospital morbidity was 4.0% and mortality was 0.8%.

The spectrum of paediatric trauma varies significantly, with different injury mechanisms and patterns in LMICs. Healthcare structure, access to paediatric surgery and trauma prevention strategies may account for these differences. Trauma registries are needed in LMICs for future research and to inform local policy.

Appendicitis: Rural Patient Status is Associated with Increased Duration of Prehospital Symptoms and Worse Outcomes in High- and Low-Middle-Income Countries.

Appendicitis is a significant economic and healthcare burden in low-, middle-, and high-income countries. We aimed to determine whether urban and rural patient status would affect outcomes in appendicitis in a combined population regardless of country of economic status. We hypothesize that patients from rural areas and both high- and low-middle-income countries would have disproportionate outcomes and duration of symptoms compared to their urban counterparts.

Adults (≥18 years) with appendicitis during 2010–2016 in South Africa and USA were reviewed using multi-institutional data. Baseline demographic, operative details, durations of stay, and complications (Clavien–Dindo index) were collected. AAST grades were assigned by two independent reviewers based on operative findings. Summary, univariate, and multivariable analyses of rural and urban patients in both countries were performed.

There were 2602 patients with a median interquartile range [IQR] of 26 [18–40] years; 45% were female. Initial management included McBurney incisions (n = 458, 18%), laparotomy (n = 915, 35%), laparoscopic appendectomy (n = 1185, 45%), and laparoscopy converted to laparotomy (n = 44, 2%). Comparing rural versus urban patient status, there were increased overall median [IQR] AAST grades (3 [1–5] vs. 2 [1–3], p = 0.001), prehospital duration of symptoms (2 [1–5] vs. 2 [1–3], p = 0.001), complications (44.3 vs. 23%, p = 0.001), and need for temporary abdominal closure (20.3 vs. 6.9%, p = 0.001).

Despite socioeconomic status and country of origin, patients from more rural environments demonstrate poorer outcomes notwithstanding significant differences in overall disease severity. The AAST grading system may serve a potential benchmark to recognize areas with disparate disease burdens. This information could be used for strategic improvements for surgeon placement and availability.

The impact of the Ponseti treatment method on parents and caregivers of children with clubfoot: a comparison of two urban populations in Europe and Africa.

With the Ponseti treatment method established as the gold standard, children with clubfeet face a prolonged treatment regime that might impact on their families. We aimed to determine how Ponseti treatment influences the lives of parents and caregivers and what coping strategies they use. Secondarily, we aimed to identify any potential differences between two urban referral centres for clubfoot.

A total of 115 parents of children affected with idiopathic clubfoot were recruited and included in two groups: one from the United Kingdom (UK) and the other from South Africa (SA). The participants completed the following three instruments: the Impact on Family Scale (IOFS), the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS), and the Brief COPE.

During the bracing phase, the IOFS showed a trend towards lower scores when compared to the casting phase for both cohorts (p = 0.247 and p = 0.434, respectively). The SA population scored higher than the UK in the MSPSS in both casting (p = 0.002) and bracing phases (p = 0.004) and used coping strategies at a significantly higher level when compared to the UK population (p < 0.05) in both treatment phases.

This is the first study to show that Ponseti treatment for clubfoot causes an impact on family function. In SA, perceived social support is higher and coping strategies are used more often than in the UK to deal with the stressful circumstances of treatment.