General Thoracic Surgery in Rwanda: An Assessment of Surgical Volume and of Workforce and Material Resource Deficits

Adriana G. Ramirez, Nebil Nuradin, Fidele Byiringiro, Georges Ntakiyiruta, Andrew E. Giles, Robert Riviello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Benchmarking operative volume and resources is necessary to understand current efforts addressing thoracic surgical need. Our objective was to examine the impact on thoracic surgery volume and patient access in Rwanda following a comprehensive capacity building program, the Human Resources for Health (HRH) Program, and thoracic simulation training. Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted of operating room registries between 2011 and 2016 at three Rwandan referral centers: University Teaching Hospital of Kigali, University Teaching Hospital of Butare, and King Faisal Hospital. A facility-based needs assessment of essential surgical and thoracic resources was performed concurrently using modified World Health Organization forms. Baseline patient characteristics at each site were compared using a Pearson Chi-squared test or Kruskal–Wallis test. Comparisons of operative volume were performed using paired parametric statistical methods. Results: Of 14,130 observed general surgery procedures, 248 (1.76%) major thoracic cases were identified. The most common indications were infection (45.9%), anatomic abnormalities (34.4%), masses (13.7%), and trauma (6%). The proportion of thoracic cases did not increase during the HRH program (2.07 vs 1.78%, respectively, p = 0.22) or following thoracic simulation training (1.95 2013 vs 1.44% 2015; p = 0.15). Both university hospitals suffer from inadequate thoracic surgery supplies and essential anesthetic equipment. The private hospital performed the highest percentage of major thoracic procedures consistent with greater workforce and thoracic-specific material resources (0.89% CHUK, 0.67% CHUB, and 5.42% KFH; p < 0.01). Conclusions and relevance: Lack of specialist providers and material resources limits thoracic surgical volume in Rwanda despite current interventions. A targeted approach addressing barriers described is necessary for sustainable progress in thoracic surgical care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-43
Number of pages8
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 15 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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