Impact of Mobile Endoscopy on Neurosurgical Development in East Africa

Hydrocephalus, a disease frequently associated with poverty, becomes even more challenging to treat in developing
regions because of lack of neurosurgical manpower, inadequately equipped public health care facilities, meager
resource allocations, high rates of neonatal infection, difficulty of accessibility to hospitals able to treat hydrocephalus, and high complication rates in patients who are able to access and receive shunting procedures.
Definitive treatment of hydrocephalus that avoids shunting procedures and long-term shunt dependence is a safer option.

In environments such as Sub-Saharan Africa (and, indeed, in other similar resource-challenged regions), neuroendoscopic ventriculostomy (NEV), in appropriately selected patients can overcome the problems associated with shunting, including long-term shunt dependence. A novel approach promoted by volunteer neurosurgical teams from the Neurosurgery Education Development (NED) Foundation is described, and its important role in successfully providing NEV at hospitals in regional sites away from main tertiary referral hospitals is outlined. Using a single portable neuroendoscopy equipment system and a versatile free-hand, single operator neuroendoscope,
an easily mobile outreach model has been successfully used to perform 187 procedures in 19 hospital sites around six countries and on two continents.

Neuroendoscopy is not just a priority surgical tool for East Africa; it represents a best practices philosophy of what is
possible within a highly sophisticated surgical speciality like neurosurgery in developing countries. It offers an opportunity to highlight the importance of tertiary care specialties like neurosurgery in this region, to develop closer relationships between African neurosurgeons and to convince medical students, general residents, and nurses that “world-class neurosurgery” can be possible in a developing region.

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