HumanInsight The impact of telephone consultations due to COVID-19 on paediatric neurosurgical health services
Childs Nerv Syst. 2022 Aug 17. doi: 10.1007/s00381-022-05651-z. Online ahead of print.
PURPOSE: The aim of the study was to evaluate the role of telephone consultations due to the pandemic in the management of paediatric neurosurgical patients and, furthermore, to examine the proportion of patients who eventually needed a face-to-face appointment and assess the underline reasons for that.
METHODS: This retrospective study included all the paediatric neurosurgical patients who had a telephone appointment during a 3-month lockdown period. Overall, 319 patients (186 males and 133 females) aged 8.36 ± 4.88 (mean ± SD) had a consultation via telephone. Two hundred fifty-one (78.7%) patients had a follow-up assessment and 68 (21.3%) were new appointments.
RESULTS: Patients were divided between two main groups. Group A included 263 patients (82.4%) whose consultation was adequate via telephone, and Group B included 56 patients (17.6%) who required a complementary face-to-face appointment. Patients who were more likely to require a supplementary appointment were patients with either dysraphism or ventriculomegaly and benign enlarged subarachnoid spaces (BESS) (43.3% and 36.4%, respectively). Interestingly, most children with hydrocephalus who underwent a cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) diversion procedure and children with Chiari I malformation were appropriately assessed via telephone (85.1% and 83.3%, respectively). Finally, children aged < 2 years (55.2%) were better managed with face-to-face appointments. No difference was noticed regarding follow-up and new appointments.
CONCLUSION: Although telemedicine was not unknown to neurosurgical services, the actual application of telephone or video consultations remained quite limited. It was COVID-19 pandemic who reinforced the use of telemedicine, and taking into consideration its promising results, we can safely assume that it can be incorporated into neurosurgical health care even once the pandemic crisis has resolved.
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