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Plastic Surgery International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 275215, 10 pages
Research Article

Palliative Reconstructive Surgery: Contextualizing Palliation in Resource-Poor Settings

Plastic, Reconstructive and Hand Surgery Unit, AIC Kijabe Hospital, Kijabe 00220, Kenya

Received 4 July 2014; Revised 21 September 2014; Accepted 4 October 2014; Published 30 October 2014

Academic Editor: Nicolo Scuderi

Copyright © 2014 Peter M. Nthumba. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. Palliative care in Kenya and the larger Sub-Saharan Africa is considered a preserve of hospices, where these exist. Surgical training does not arm the surgeon with the skills needed to deal with the care of palliative patients. Resource constraints demand that the surgeon be multidiscipline trained so as to be able to adequately address the needs of a growing population of patients that could benefit from surgical palliation. Patients and Methods. The author describes his experience in the management of a series of 31 palliative care patients, aged 8 to 82 years. There were a total of nine known or presumed mortalities in the first year following surgery; 17 patients experienced an improved quality of life for at least 6 months after surgery. Fourteen of these were disease-free at 6 months. Conclusion. Palliative reconstructive surgery is indicated in a select number of patients. Although cure is not the primary intent of palliative surgery, the potential benefits of an improved quality of life and the possibility of cure should encourage a more proactive role for the surgeon. The need for palliative care can be expected to increase significantly in Africa, with the estimated fourfold increase of cancer patients over the next 50 years.