Spent the afternoon with Dr. Alberto Munoz, Vascular Surgeon. He invited me over to Clinica Palermo to watch surgery for a carotid body tumor, which is almost exclusively a high-altitude condition.
We previously met in Santa Cruz de la Sierra (Bolivia) at the annual conference of the Latin American Association of Vascular Surgery and Angiography. Dr. Munoz is the current President of the organization.
Since the majority of cases of this condition are diagnosed and treated in Latin America (in the high altitude cities of Mexico City, Bogotá, Quito and La Paz) one of the goals Dr. Munoz is working on is compiling a database of carotid body tumor cases, and creating a surgical consensus (or guideline) for the treatment of this condition.
Right now, there is no formal data collection process to keep track of all the different surgeons operating for this condition at different hospitals – so the true incidence of this condition isn’t really known. Having a database to collect all the data would also make it easier for surgeons to track and publish their findings and outcomes. Since both vascular surgeons and ENT surgeons operate for this condition – a lot of the experts for this condition aren’t even in contact with each other to share information.
Since I created a thoracic surgery database (for a similar purpose), we talked about this a bit while waiting for the patient to be brought to the operating room.
More importantly, this database would give surgeons an opportunity to publish their data – for the benefit of others in the specialty as well as the patients. (Wouldn’t you, as a patient want to see someone like Dr. Munoz, who has operated on numerous patients with this condition versus a North American surgeon, who may see just a few cases, if any, during his/her entire career?)
The database would allow surgeons to quantify their cases, as well as report and calculate their surgical outcomes.
(I’ll publish more about the actual operating room experience over at Colombia Reports.com)