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Helicopter Transfer of Neurosurgery Patients Not Always Necessary

Posted by floriza in Neurosurgery

A study published in PLoS ONE reports on an investigation of the records of neurosurgery patients who were transported in 2008 for treatment in one specific facility. The study found that 63 percent of the patients could have been safely transferred via ambulance on the ground rather than helicopter.

The difference in cost between a ground ambulance and a helicopter is significant. The researchers noted that ambulances typically cost $800-$2,000, while helicopter transfers cost between $12,000 and $25,000.

Details of the Neurosurgery Study

The records of 167 neurosurgery patients who had been transferred by helicopter were evaluated for the study. The majority of the patients were 55 years of age. One hundred twenty-five of these patients were either admitted to the intensive care unit, or neurosurgery was immediately performed on them.

The researchers found that even when ground transportation would have taken less than three-quarters of an hour, many of the patients were transported to the hospital by helicopter. Fifty-seven of the patients arrived at the hospital in a helicopter, and 60 percent of the patients were transferred on the ground. Only 26 spent more than 80 minutes traveling to the hospital. The remaining patients who arrived at the hospital via ground spent less than 60 minutes traveling.

The majority of these patients did not receive neurosurgery until several hours after their arrival at the hospital, causing the researchers to conclude that helicopter transfers are often unnecessary.

What is Neurosurgery?

Neurosurgery is more than just brain surgery. It is a specialized medical field that involves surgical interventions on any part of the nervous system, which includes the brain, the spinal cord, the spinal column, many of the nerves in the body, and the muscles of the body. Neurosurgeons also diagnose neurological injuries and disorders and provide non-surgical care.

Neurosurgeons treat a number of diseases and injuries, including brain and spinal tumors, as well as tumors of the Pituitary gland. They also treat compression fractures of the spine, spinal stenosis, epilepsy, and brain aneurysms. People with Parkinson’s disease or those who have suffered a stroke are often candidates for neurosurgery.

Neurosurgeons in New Jersey and throughout the U.S. must receive 15 years of education after high school in order to practice in the field. They must be experienced with a wide variety of different surgical procedures. As a result, there are fewer than 4,000 board-certified neurosurgeons in the United States.


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