The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted medical practice across the globe. The effects are most notable in the fields of infectious disease, virology, emergency and critical care medicine, and epidemiology. Other medical specialties, including neurosurgery, however, are also impacted.
To highlight the effect of the pandemic on the neurosurgery practice, the Journal of Neurosurgery Publishing Group (JNSPG), the scholarly journal division of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, is releasing a series of editorials on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the practice of neurosurgery.
Douglas S. Kondziolka, MD, FAANS; William T. Couldwell, MD, PhD, FAANS; and James T. Rutka, MD, PhD, FAANS, introduce the series and highlight the impact the pandemic has had on neurosurgical practice. Three editorials are available, and additional papers on this topic will appear each Friday, so be sure to check back weekly.
Yirui Sun, MD, PhD, and Ying Mao, MD, PhD, provide an update on the pandemic in China. They speak of colleagues lost and the efforts of neurosurgeons to treat emergency cases regardless of the viral status of their patients. The authors also discuss how COVID-19 has given them “pause to reinforce [their] skillsets and redesign [their] mindsets to perform roles not only as neurosurgeons but also as executive officers.”
Marco Cenzato, MD, and colleagues speak from the Lombardy region of Italy. They describe a reorganization of neurosurgical facilities to expand the number of ICUs available to COVID-19 patients. Fifteen neurosurgical departments were temporarily consolidated into three locations, with neurosurgeons and patients shifted as well. As a result, “opening the hospital doors to neurosurgeons coming from other institutions has offered an unprecedented opportunity of collaboration and integration of teams.”
Leaders of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons address current management of COVID-19 in the pediatric neurosurgery community and provide recommendations on the preparation and response to the pandemic. Crucial areas addressed in their recommendations include children’s hospitals as a whole, operating rooms, pediatric neurosurgery clinical teams, and patients. Serious illness remains relatively rare among children with COVID-19. Nevertheless, the authors warn against complacency and stress the need for urgency in preparation and response to the pandemic.
Neurosurgeries must be prioritized, delaying less urgent cases so that increased hospital facilities and equipment can be made available for patients with COVID-19.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc in the lives of people across the world. The numbers of cases and deaths from the disease continue to climb at a rapid pace. Many deaths have occurred among health care workers. On both a personal and professional level, the JNSPG editors acknowledge, with sadness, the passing of fellow neurosurgeon James T. Goodrich, MD, Chief of Pediatric Neurosurgery, Montefiore Medical Center, New York City, from complications related to COVID-19 on March 30, 2020.