Scielo RSS <![CDATA[South African Journal of Surgery]]> vol. 61 num. 2 lang. es <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[<b>Embracing the future: the necessity of implementing robotic surgery in South African training institutions</b>]]> <![CDATA[<b>An observational cross-sectional study to assess teaching, knowledge and resource availability to provide surgical burn care by surgical trainees in hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Surgical management of burn injuries is within the scope of practice of general surgeons in most low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), like South Africa. This study aims to assess the teaching, knowledge and resource availability to perform basic surgical procedures for burn injuries amongst surgical trainees in KwaZulu-Natal METHODS: The study design is an observational descriptive cross-sectional study using quantitative questionnaires, including registrars in the Department of Surgery at the University of KwaZulu-Natal RESULTS: There was a response rate of 57%. The hospitals have been grouped into regions of coastal, western and northern to reflect the three areas where surgical registrars receive their training. There was a large range of clinical and surgical skill teaching between regions. Equipment and operating time availability is more available in the west and north than in the coastal regions, which is reflected in the reported practical experience. Acute indications for surgery were better understood than those for chronic burns CONCLUSION: The surgical capacity in general surgery in KwaZulu-Natal to meet the burden of injury for burns is deficient. While some theoretical knowledge exists, the practical component is insufficient, which could be due to a lack of equipment and training. In order to address the burden of burn injury in KwaZulu-Natal, a provincial plan needs to be developed. Access to equipment and theatre should be prioritised and practical skills training should be developed with reinforcement of theoretical knowledge as part of a training strategy for general surgical registrars <![CDATA[<b>Interpretation of emergency CT angiograms in vascular trauma - vascular surgeon vs radiologist</b>]]> BACKGROUND: This study aims to investigate any discrepancy in interpretation of computed tomography (CT) angiograms (CTA) in suspected traumatic arterial injury by vascular specialists and radiology specialists, and the influence of any discrepancies on patient outcome METHODS: A prospective observational comparative study of 6-month duration was undertaken at a tertiary hospital in Durban, South Africa. Haemodynamically stable patients with suspected isolated vascular trauma admitted to a tertiary vascular surgery service who underwent a CTA on admission were reviewed. The interpretations of CTAs were compared between vascular surgeons, vascular trainees and radiology trainees with the consultant radiologist report as the gold standard comparator RESULTS: Of 131 CTA consultant radiologist reports, the radiology registrar concurred with 89%, which was less than the vascular surgeon who correctly interpreted 120 out of 123 negative cases with three false positives. There were no false negatives or descriptive errors. A 100% sensitivity (95% CI 63.06-100) and 97.62% (95% CI 93.20-99.51) specificity was noted for the vascular surgeon. Overall agreement was 97.71 % with Cohen's kappa value = 0.83 (95% CI 0.64-1.00) indicating very good agreement. Apart from three negative direct angiograms, patient management and outcome were not impacted by the vascular surgeons' errors in interpretation CONCLUSION: There is very good inter-observer agreement in the interpretation of CTAs in trauma between the vascular surgeon and radiologist with no negative impact on patient outcome <![CDATA[<b>The impact of thromboelastography on patients with penetrating abdominal trauma requiring intensive care</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Trauma-induced coagulopathy (TIC) is a complex multifaceted process which contributes to higher mortality rates in severely injured trauma patients. Thromboelastography (TEG) is effective in detecting TIC which assists in instituting goal-directed therapy as part of damage control resuscitation METHODS: This retrospective study included all adult patients over a 36-month period with penetrating abdominal trauma who required a laparotomy, blood products and admission for critical care. Analysis included demographics, admission data, 24-hour interventions, TEG parameters and 30-day outcomes RESULTS: Eighty-four patients with a median age of 28 years were included. The majority (93%; 78/84) suffered from a gunshot injury, with 75% (63/84) receiving a damage control laparotomy. Forty-eight patients (57%) had a TEG. Injury severity score and total fluid and blood product administered in the first 24 hours were all significantly higher in patients who had a TEG (p < 0.05). TEG profiles were: 42% (20/48) normal, 42% (20/48) hypocoagulable, 12% (6/48) hypercoagulable and 4% (2/48) mixed parameters. Fibrinolysis profiles were: 48% (23/48) normal, 44% (21/48) fibrinolysis shutdown and 8% (4/48) hyperfibrinolysis. Mortality rate was 5% (4/84) at 24 hours and 26% (22/84) at 30 days, with no difference between the two groups. High-grade complication rates, days on a ventilator and intensive care unit length of stay were all significantly higher in patients who did not have a TEG CONCLUSION: TIC is common in severely injured penetrating trauma patients. The usage of a thromboelastogram did not impact on 24-hour or 30-day mortality but did result in a decreased intensive care stay and a decreased high-grade complication rate <![CDATA[<b>The clinicopathological spectrum and treatment outcomes in metastatic colorectal cancer in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa</b>]]> BACKGROUND: In high-income countries (HICs) 17-20% of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients have metastatic CRC (mCRC) at the time of diagnosis, of which 10-25% are or become resectable, and a further 4-11% of patients will develop metachronous metastases. The study aimed to establish the prevalence and pattern of metastatic CRC to document treatment outcomes in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and to compare results to international norms METHODS: The study population comprised patients with mCRC presenting between 2000 and 2019. Demographics, primary tumour site, spectrum of metastatic disease and resection rate were assessed RESULTS: MCRC occurred in 33% of the CRC patient population. Eight hundred and thirty-six patients had metastatic disease, comprising Africans (325, 38.8%), Indians (312, 37.3%), Coloureds (37, 4.4%) and Whites (161, 19.2%). Six hundred and fifty-four patients (79%) had synchronous metastases and 182 patients had metachronous metastases (21%). Single organ metastases occurred in 596 patients (71.2%) (M1A) and multiple organ metastasis occurred in 240 patients (28.7%) (M1B). Metastases occurred in the liver (613), lung (240) and peritoneum (85). Fifty-two patients (6.2%) underwent resection of their metastases CONCLUSION: The prevalence of stage IV CRC in our setting is at the upper limit of international norms. mCRC occurred in 33%, with similar proportions in all races. Resection rate for metastases is low <![CDATA[<b>Sentinel lymph node biopsy in a resource-limited setting: a retrospective comparison of sentinel lymph node biopsy before and after the introduction of Sentimag at an academic breast unit</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Sentinel lymph node biopsy (SLNB) is performed for staging and prognostication of breast cancer (BC) in cases with a clinically and radiologically negative axilla. Using blue dye and a radioactive colloid injection is considered the gold standard for SLNB. This study aims to evaluate the SLNB outcomes before and after the introduction of Sentimag at an academic breast unit. Sentimag uses an injection of superparamagnetic iron oxide which is then detected in the sentinal lymph node using a magnetometer METHOD: A retrospective cohort study was performed comparing SLNBs done from 1 January 2017 to 31 December 2018. During 2017, a nuclear medicine technique was used for all SLNBs, while the Sentimag system was used in 2018 RESULTS: There was no difference between the two groups comparing age, T-stage, size of tumour, and molecular status. The only statistically significant difference found was more higher-grade tumours in the group where a nuclear medicine technique was used in 2017 (p = 0.04). There was no difference in the type of surgery performed comparing mastectomy and breast-conserving surgery rates between the two groups. There was an 11% increase in the number of patients who had an SLNB done with the Sentimag technique (2018). In 2017, 42% (58/139) had an SLNB and in 2018, 53% (59/112) had an SLNB CONCLUSION: This result demonstrates the feasibility of the magnetic technique for SLNB in a resource-limited setting. This new method shows promise as a safe and effective technique for SLNB - it is a valuable alternative in the absence of nuclear medicine (N.Med) facilities <![CDATA[<b>Rectal suction biopsies to diagnose Hirschsprung's disease in a low-resource environment - optimising cost-effectiveness</b>]]> BACKGROUND: The diagnosis of Hirschsprung's disease (HD) by rectal suction biopsy (RSB) has cost implications that could be reduced by ascertaining the optimal number of specimens required. The aim was to audit our experience to optimise cost-effectiveness METHODS: Medical records of all patients who underwent an RSB between January 2018 and December 2021 were reviewed. In 2020, we transitioned from using the Solo-RBT to the rbi2 system (requiring single-use cartridges). Descriptive statistics were reported and a comparative analysis of the diagnostic efficacy of the Solo-RBT versus the rbi2 system was performed. The cost of consumables was calculated according to the number of specimens submitted RESULTS: Of 218 RSBs, 181 were first and 37 were repeat. The mean age at biopsy was 62 days (IQR 22-65). An average of two tissue specimens were obtained per biopsy. Of the 181 first biopsies, 151 were optimal and 30 suboptimal. HD was confirmed in 19 (10.5%) of the patients. Amongst biopsies where a single specimen was obtained, 16% were inconclusive, compared to 14% with two specimens and 5% with three specimens. The cartridges for the rbi2 system cost R530. If two cartridges are used at initial biopsy the total cost is double of a single tissue specimen sent for initial biopsy, and two specimens sent for repeat biopsies CONCLUSION: In a low-resource setting, selecting the appropriate RSB system and obtaining a single specimen is sufficient to diagnose HD. Patients with inconclusive results should undergo a repeat biopsy where two specimens are obtained <![CDATA[<b>The utility of the bedside index of severity in acute pancreatitis at prognosticating adverse outcomes</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Identification of at-risk patients with acute pancreatitis (AP) early on in the course of hospital admission remains a challenge. Early identification of these patients can facilitate early referral to tertiary hospitals with skilled multidisciplinary teams (MDTs) and high-dependency health care facilities. This study retrospectively reviewed the ability of the bedside index of severity in acute pancreatitis (BISAP) score and other biochemical markers to predict organ failure and mortality in acute pancreatitis METHODS: All patients presenting to Grey's Hospital with AP between 2012 and 2020 were included in the study. The BISAP score and other biomarkers were evaluated at presentation in predicting organ failure (> 48 hours duration) and mortality RESULTS: A total of 235 patients were included in the study. A total of 144 (61%) were male and 91 (39%) were female. Alcohol (81%) and gallstones (69%) were the commonest aetiological factors amongst males and females respectively. A total of 42 (29%) males and 10 (11%) females developed organ failure during their hospital stay. The mortality rate was 11.8% for males, 6.59% for females, with an overall mortality of 9.8%. A BISAP score of 2 had a sensitivity of 87.98% and specificity of 59.62% at predicting organ failure (positive predictive value [PPV] = 88.46%, negative predictive value [NPV] = 58.49%, 95% confidence interval [CI], p = 0.001). A BISAP score of 3 and above had a sensitivity of 98.11% and specificity of 69.57% at predicting mortality (PPV = 96.74%, NPV = 80%, 95% CI, p = 0.001). A multivariate analysis of biomarkers bicarbonate, base excess, lactate, urea and creatinine either failed to reach statistical significance or had specificity that is too low to prognosticate organ failure and mortality CONCLUSION: The BISAP score has limitations at predicting organ failure, but it is a reliable tool for predicting mortality in AP. Due to its simplicity of use, it should be used in resource-constrained settings to triage at-risk patients in smaller hospitals, for early referral to tertiary hospitals <![CDATA[<b>Adult corrosive ingestions in the Pietermaritzburg Metropolitan Surgical Service</b>]]> BACKGROUND: There is a paucity of data around corrosive ingestion in South Africa over the last three decades. As such, we set out to review our experience with adult corrosive ingestion in our tertiary gastrointestinal surgical service METHODS: A retrospective, quantitative review was performed. The parameters analysed were demographics, substance ingestion, ingestion time to first presentation to a healthcare facility, clinical presentation, severity of injury based on endoscopic classification, computed tomography (CT) findings, management and outcomes. Patients presenting within 72 hours with alarm symptoms underwent flexible upper endoscopy and injury severity grading. In patients presenting after 72 hours, a water-soluble contrast study was obtained prior to upper endoscopy. Patients with signs of sepsis, surgical emphysema or physiological instability were referred for urgent CT to exclude oesophageal perforation and mediastinitis RESULTS: Between January 2012 and January 2019, a total of 64 patients presented with a history of corrosive ingestion - 40 (31%) were males and 24 (19%) females. The average time from ingestion to presentation was 72 hours. In 78% of patients, the agents were intentionally ingested, whilst 22% claimed accidental ingestion. A quarter of the patients (21%) presented to the unit clinically unstable, requiring emergent cardiorespiratory support. Eight (12%) patients required urgent surgical intervention due to the extent of injury. Nine (14%) patients demised during the acute admission. Of this group, three patients had undergone surgical intervention, and six were managed conservatively. Eighty-five per cent of all patients survived their initial admission CONCLUSION: This paper has highlighted the problem of corrosive ingestion in our setting. It remains a complicated problem to manage associated with significant morbidity and mortality rates. The current trend in the assessment of these patients is increased use of CT scan to assess the extent of transmural necrosis. Our algorithms should change to reflect this contemporary approach <![CDATA[<b>Mediastinal goitre - a South African case series</b>]]> BACKGROUND: Mediastinal goitres are rare and may be diagnosed late since they are likely to manifest with non-specific cardiorespiratory symptoms especially when there is no visible cervical component. The imaging modality of choice is a contrast-enhanced computed tomography (CT) scan of the neck and chest after incidental finding of goitre on chest X-ray indicated for a condition unrelated to goitre METHOD: This case series aims to highlight the peculiarity of mediastinal goitre in terms of clinical presentation, surgical approach, airway challenges at anaesthesia, specific complications and final histopathological report RESULTS: Over a nine-year period, four cases of euthyroid mediastinal goitre underwent sternotomy. The mean age was 57.5 years (45-71) and all patients were female. Most patients presented with non-specific cardiorespiratory symptoms. The difficult airway set was used in all cases and there were two instances of damage to the recurrent laryngeal nerve (RLN). All histopathological reports were benign CONCLUSION: The presentation of the mediastinal goitres was atypical. Cervical incision and sternotomy were performed in all cases. There were two instances of RLN injury and no malignant histopathology. Despite the potential threat to the airway, all intubations were uneventful <![CDATA[<b>A South African central hospital's experience with malignant colorectal obstruction</b>]]> BACKGROUND: The spectrum and outcome of colorectal cancer (CRC) presenting with obstruction is not well studied in low- to middle-income countries (LMIC) and could have implications for health policy. This study aimed to address this deficit in an LMIC setting METHODS: A retrospective analysis was conducted of patients with large bowel obstruction, during the period 2000-2019 from the prospective Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital (IALCH) CRC registry data. Data analysed included the site of CRC, tumour differentiation, management of patients with obstructive CRC, resection margins post resection, oncological management and reasons for failure to receive oncological therapy. Patient follow-up and recurrence were recorded RESULTS: Malignant obstruction from CRC occurred in 510 patients (20% of the CRC registry). Median age at presentation was 57 years (IQR 48-67). One hundred and seventy-six (34.5%) and 135 (26.5%) had stage III and IV disease respectively. Moderately differentiated cancer was seen in 335 (65.6%). Management was resection (370; 72.5%), diverting colostomy (123; 24.1%) and stent insertion (55; 10.8%). Twenty-one patients (5.7%) had positive resection margins. Recurrence occurred in 34 patients (6.7%), all of whom had initially undergone resection, giving a recurrence rate of 9.8% in those receiving surgery. Median disease-free interval for patients developing recurrence was 21 months (IQR 12-32 CONCLUSION: One in five patients with CRC presented with obstruction. These patients were younger than in high income-country (HIC) series. Over 70% underwent resection. Stomas were used twice as frequently as stents to relieve the obstruction, a finding that is the reverse of that in HICs <![CDATA[<b>Fungal abscess of the parotid gland - the value of microbiological assessment</b>]]> Fungal parotitis is rare and the sequela parotid abscess exceedingly so. We report our experience with Candida glabrata and Candida albicans parotid gland abscesses in critically ill HIV-positive patients and highlight the value of microbiological assessment to tailor management. <![CDATA[<b>The vagaries of diagnosis and management of traumatic lumbar artery pseudoaneurysm</b>]]> This report details a patient who sustained a posterior stab to a lumbar artery. The diagnosis was challenging and could have been easily missed if a high index of suspicion were not maintained. In a trauma context, this injury is missed due to focus on other concomitant injuries. We discuss the merits of computed tomography angiography (CTA) to identify the arterial blush which led to onward referral for successful catheter-directed arterial embolotherapy. <![CDATA[<b>Professor John Terblanche - 1935-2023</b>]]> This report details a patient who sustained a posterior stab to a lumbar artery. The diagnosis was challenging and could have been easily missed if a high index of suspicion were not maintained. In a trauma context, this injury is missed due to focus on other concomitant injuries. We discuss the merits of computed tomography angiography (CTA) to identify the arterial blush which led to onward referral for successful catheter-directed arterial embolotherapy. <![CDATA[<b>Dr Stan Weakley <strong>—</strong> 27 July 1953-10 February 2023</b>]]> This report details a patient who sustained a posterior stab to a lumbar artery. The diagnosis was challenging and could have been easily missed if a high index of suspicion were not maintained. In a trauma context, this injury is missed due to focus on other concomitant injuries. We discuss the merits of computed tomography angiography (CTA) to identify the arterial blush which led to onward referral for successful catheter-directed arterial embolotherapy.