Tag Archive for: Germany

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Coming out of lockdown safely – A view from Germany

How our lives have changed. Over two months ago we published a popular blog on the effect of COVID-19 on our surgical practice (https://www.bjuinternational.com/bjui-blog/covid-19-and-urology/). In many ways it informed us as to what to do during challenging times to keep our patients safe.

As we gradually take careful steps out of lockdown, our minds are focused on the most important of all words – SAFETY. 

While every nation will have differences and nuances, the principles of learning from each other, remain the same as they did when lockdowns started.

I am not surprised by new and ever changing information about the disease almost every day and see international collaboration as a powerful and positive tool in this situation.

With this in mind I requested our friends from Italy, China, Germany and New Zealand for their own perspectives.

Here are their thoughts for your reading pleasure.

Please feel free to insert your comments under the blog and share on social media.

Yours in friendship,
Prokar Dasgupta
Editor in Chief, BJUI

After having been hit by the pandemic just shortly after Italy, Germany experienced some early waves of COVID19  especially after some carnival festivities had spread the disease in some areas. The German government decided quite early to implement a strategy to deal with the outbreak. Initially the Ministry of health gave the restriction order to potspone evey plannable / elective surgery and hospital treatment, to „flatten the curve“  and thus avoid situations like in Italy, Spain or in the USA,  so that the Healthcare system would always allow for those in need to get an unflattered access to ventilation. This order had an immediate effect on urology practice throughout Germany. Some areas in Germany struggled with severe numbers of  COVID19, others were barely affected by the pandemic.

In our department, besides the usual hygiene measures like distancing, triage of patients by questionnaire and sending staff into „home office“ (the German term for working from home),  we immediately cancelled all benign cases, as well as low risk Prostate Cancer or small kidney cancer cases. Moreover, we additionally postponed those patients who would clinically fit into a higher risk category for suffering from a severe COVID19 course if they had acquired it, i.e patients with diabetes, severe COPD, older patients etc. also, initially surgeries with a higher likelihood for the necessity of postoperative ICU surveillance and treatment were postponed if possible.

After these initial tremendous cuts in caseload and patient numbers had more or less emptied the Intensive care units as well as hospital beds throughout Germany, it slowly became clearer that the quite solid Health System offered a lot more hospital beds as well as ICU / ventilation options, and that the general hygiene measures had apparently lead to a less intense outbreak in most parts of the country, some states and counties allowed to stepwise get back to a (reduced) normality – always under the caveat that epidemiological numbers stay low.

The German Government acted with a strong scientific support by one the world’s most respected coronavirus virologists, Prof Drosten of Charité Hospital Berlin, together with a team of the German Disease Control Institution („Robert Koch Institut“), and worked closely together with the state governors of the 16 German states, to share a common bundle of measures (still with nuances from state to state). Mass testing was made available quite early (yet, usually restricted to those with symptoms or contact persons). Currently, of 174,824, nationwide confirmed cases  7,917 people have died, making the death rate hit 4.5%.

Since a couple of days, we experience a stepwise way out of the lockdown in everyday life, with every state setting up slightly different measures; still, physical distancing and face masks are mandatory and shape the picture of everyday life. Since last week, restaurants and bars  are opening up again, and even the German Premier league went back to playing (with extremely strict measures like regular testing for every team member, as well as quarantine, but without any fans at the stadiums). Of note, regular testing for hospital staff is not required throughout Germany…

The way we work in our department has changed dramatically since the beginning of the pandemic. Our staff gatherings are restricted to only a few people, everybody wears masks, and is trying to keep their distance as much as possible, staff members who have office jobs like secretaries work from home. Urologic Surgery has resumed and is now performed back to almost normal case numbers; robotic cases have resumed to 100%, now performing 10 RARPs per day again. The waiting lists are long enough to cope with the otherwise probably reduced demand (due to a lack of biopsies, or outpatient urology consults resulting in referrals). There are still no visitors allowed, our hospital still has a separated entrance gateway for an initial triage, we send patients home sooner than we used to (for various reasons, patients usually stayed as inpatient for a week after surgery).

A recent survey of the German Working Group on Laparoscopic and Robotic Surgery of the German Society of Urology, amongst the busiest minimally invasive departments in Germany, reflected the situation of a quite colourful picture of minimally invasive Urology during the pandemic; it ranged from departments that are still barely functionally operating to hospitals with little or no restrictions in numbers. In some departments, parts of the wards were closed, and urologists were taking care of COVID 19 wards instead. The huge variety of responses reflects the differences in epidemiological impact in the 16 states of Germany – resulting in different restriction order patterns by the governments and county authorities. The results of our survey are currently put together and are soon to be published.

Dr. Christian Wagner , FEBU
Head of Robotic Urology, St. Antonius Hospital Gronau , Germany

 

Video: Shortcomings in the management of undescended testis

Shortcomings in the management of undescended testis: guideline intention vs reality and the underlying causes – insights from the biggest German cohort

Abstract

Objectives

To assess the implementation of the current guideline and identify potential underlying causes for late surgery in children with undescended testis (UDT) in Germany. UDT is the most common surgical issue in paediatric urology and to avoid malignant degeneration and subfertility current guidelines recommend orchidopexy during the first year of life; however, this seems not to be implemented in practice.

Patients and Methods

In all, 5 547 patients with cryptorchidism at 16 hospitals nationwide were studied regarding age at orchidopexy between 2003 and 2016. Multivariate analysis was performed to identify factors influencing timing of surgery. Additionally, a survey on knowledge of UDT management was conducted amongst physicians treating boys and final‐year medical students.

Results

Between 2003 and 2008 only 4% of boys with UDT underwent surgery before the age of 1 year. After the guideline update from 2009, this figure was 5% from 2010 to 2012, and 8% from 2013 to 2016. The presence of a specialised department for paediatric surgery, as well as a high UDT case‐to‐year ratio positively influenced the timing of orchidopexy. The survey revealed discipline‐specific differences in the levels of knowledge about UDT management. One‐third of respondents did not know the guideline recommendations and 61% felt insufficiently informed. International comparisons revealed significant differences in the age at surgery of boys with UDT, with Germany and Great Britain ranging in the middle of the field.

Conclusion

Currently, only a small proportion of boys with UDT are operated upon during their first year of life. The level of knowledge in attending physicians remains in need of improvement. This should be actively addressed, i.e. by campaigns and educational programmes. Further studies are needed to investigate the underlying causes of late orchidopexy in UDT.

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