A Model for Sustained Collaboration to Address the Unmet Global Burden of Bladder Exstrophy-Epispadias Complex and Penopubic Epispadias: The International Bladder Exstrophy Consortium

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Abstract

Importance

International collaboration to alleviate the massive burden of surgical disease is recognized by World Health Organization as an urgent need, yet the surgical mission model to treat reconstructive surgical challenges is often constrained in ensuring adequate patient follow-up, optimal outcomes, and sustainability.

Objective

To determine whether a collaboration predicated on long-term commitment by surgeons returning to the same institution annually combined with an experienced host surgical team and infrastructure to ensure sustained patient follow-up could provide surgical care with acceptable outcomes to treat bladder exstrophy-epispadias complex (BE) and penopubic epispadias (PE).

Design, Setting, and Participants

In this prospective, observational study, long-term collaboration was created and based at a public hospital in Ahmedabad, India, between January 2009 and January 2015. The entire postoperative cohort was recalled in January 2016 for comprehensive examination, measurement of continence outcomes, and assessment of surgical complications. Seventy-six percent of patients (n = 57) who underwent complete primary repair of exstrophy during the study interval returned for annual follow-up in 2016 and formed the study cohort: 23 patients with primary BE, 19 patients with redo BE, and 11 patients with PE repair.

Main Outcomes and Measures

Demographics, operative techniques, and perioperative complications were recorded. A postoperative protocol outlining procedures to ensure monitoring of study participants was followed including removal of ureteral stents, urethral catheter, external fixators, imaging, and patient discharge.

Results

Of the 57 patients, 4 were excluded because they underwent ureterosigmoidostomy. Median age at time of surgery was 3 years (primary BE), 7 years (redo BE), and 10 years (PE), with median follow-up of 3 years, 5 years and 3 years, respectively; boys made up more than 70% of each cohort (n = 17 for primary BE, n = 15 for redo BE, and n = 9 for PE). All BE and 3 PE repairs (27%) were completed with concurrent anterior pubic osteotomies. Seventeen of 53 patients (32%) experienced complications. Only 1 patient with BE (4%) had a bladder dehiscence and was repaired the following year.

Conclusions and Relevance

A unique surgical mission model consisting of an international collaborative focused on treating the complex diagnoses of BE and PE offers outcomes comparable with those in high-income countries, demonstrating a significant patient retention rate and an opportunity to rigorously study outcomes over an accelerated interval owing to the high burden of disease in India. Postoperative care following a systematized algorithm and rigorous follow-up is mandatory to ensure safety and optimal outcomes.

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