Frontoethmoidal meningoencephaloceles (MECs) are a relatively common abnormality in southeast Asia, with disastrous consequences for the sufferer. In Cambodia, a lack of skilled neuro- and craniofacial surgeons, and the cost of surgery limit the possibilities for appropriate treatment of patients with these lesions. The authors developed a low-cost humanitarian program with the goals of treating frontoethmoidal MECs, ensuring careful postoperative follow-up, and teaching Khmer surgeons how to treat these malformations.
This program was facilitated by two nongovernmental organizations: Rose Charities Cambodia provided the facilities, patients, and local staff, and "Médecins du Monde" provided visiting surgeons and anesthesiologists. All operations were free of charge for all patients. A strict follow-up program was organized to evaluate the surgical results, the social impact of the surgery, and the satisfaction levels of the children and their parents.
Forty-five children and seven young adults with MECs were treated using a rather simple surgical technique. Of the three types of MECs encountered, the most frequent was the nasoethmoidal type (43 cases). The most common postoperative issue was a temporary CSF leak (in 16 patients). Cosmetic results were considered excellent or good in 40 patients, average in nine, and poor in one; two patients were lost to follow-up. The overall cost of each operation was estimated to be $380 (US dollars), far less than a standard MEC operation would cost in a more developed country. At the end of this humanitarian program, Khmer surgeons were able to treat standard cases of frontoethmoidal MECs without the help of foreigners.
Patients in developing nations who have limited access to standard neurosurgical care can be treated for frontoethmoidal MECs with few complications and a satisfactory cost-to-benefit ratio.
Journal of Neurosurgery 08/2007; 107(1 Suppl):11-21. DOI:10.3171/PED-07/07/011 · 3.23 Impact Factor