OBJECTIVE - Surgical specialty trips to third world countries have been praised and criticized. Our objective was to learn the usefulness of a yearly head and neck surgery trip through initial analysis of 2 years of patient data.
METHODS - We reviewed data from a prospectively maintained repository of surgical patients treated during head and neck surgical trips to Malindi, Kenya, in 2010 and 2011. Basic demographics, distance traveled for care, access to physicians, preoperative diagnosis, surgical procedure(s), and pathology were recorded when available.
RESULTS - In 2 years, 226 surgeries were performed. Patient age ranged between 3 months and 85 years, and gender was evenly split. Half of patients came from outside the town of Malindi, and a third traveled over 100 kilometers for care. The majority reported access to a local physician, yet very few patients were offered prior surgical treatment. The most common operations performed were adenotonsillectomy and hemithyroidectomy. A wide variety of cases were performed, including parotidectomies, maxillectomies, mandibulectomies, cleft lip and palate repair, and free flap reconstructions. Local and national visiting otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeons participated or observed throughout our visits with teaching emphasis based on their skills and specific learning goals.
CONCLUSIONS - Annual surgical specialty trips to rural, resource-limited regions are useful and worthwhile and offer procedures not otherwise available. On such trips, it is important to collect patient, surgical, and pathology data to help visiting surgeons determine the best procedures to teach local physicians and provide needed resources.