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World J Surg. 2009 May;33(5):893-8. doi: 10.1007/s00268-009-9981-x.

Burden of surgical disease: does the literature reflect the scope of the international crisis?

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  • 1Department of Emergency Medicine, Stony Brook University Medical Center HSC L4, Stony Brook, NY 11794-8350, USA. btaira@notes.cc.sunysb.edu



Little is factually known about the burden of surgical disease and less is known about global surgical provision of care for diseases that may be treated, cured, or palliated by a surgical intervention. Despite the lack of information, surgical interventions are provided by a variety of agencies every day in the developing world. This literature review represents the first published comprehensive review of the global surgical literature. The primary goal was to collect and summarize what has been published on the current global burden of surgical disease and thereby encourage and promote the allocation of further research and resources.


A systematic review of English language publications on Pubmed or Medline was performed.


This report summarizes what little is known in terms of numeric estimates for the global burden of surgical disease. Globally, access and availability of surgical care in developing countries remains scarce, but the problem is receiving more attention for the first time in surgical circles. Much work remains in the effort to obtain reliable estimates of the global burden of surgical disease.

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