The lack of subspecialists in Uzbekistan with a 35 million population does not allow them to perform modern neurosurgical surgeries and implement new technologies. Moreover, the lack of basic instruments complicates the further development of experienced and young neurosurgeons.

After international experience and training in different countries, this neurosurgeon and his team began to develop spinal neurosurgery in Uzbekistan and is attempting to raise this specialty to international standards by collaborating with specialists from other countries.

Dr. Abdufarrukh Karimov

Tell us, what is your hospital like?

We are based on the Republican Specialized Medical Center of Endocrinology as a Neurosurgical Unit. It is one of the National Specialized hospitals of Uzbekistan that was established about 40 years ago. Our Unit started to operate more than 8 years ago. In the beginning, it was unusual to realize why Neurosurgical Unit would be organized in Endocrinology. 

After completion of postgraduate studies (Ph.D.) and traineeship in Moscow (Russia), my two colleagues and I came back home to Uzbekistan. At that time, the Endocrinology Medical Center has been working on expanding its medical services, especially to help patients with pituitary adenoma and other neurosurgical diseases. 

Eventually, we started our neurosurgical services at the Unit in 2013 with 18 beds. Moreover, our Unit was the second clinical base for chief residents of Tashkent Pediatric Medical Institute. Our faculty contributed for residents to write and introduce their scientific research works.

How many neurosurgeons are there and how many surgeries do you perform?

There are three operating neurosurgeons and four assisting neurosurgeons. Each neurosurgeon of our unit has subspecialty such as spine, brain, and pituitary surgery. 

Currently, we perform more than 500 surgeries per year and this is comprised of 300 spinal cases, 100 cases of brain tumors, and more than 100 endoscopic pituitary surgeries. 

At the initial stages of our surgical activity, we performed significantly fewer surgeries as it was difficult for patients to understand that neurosurgical operations could be performed at Endocrinology hospital. 

Nevertheless, only in a few years, we have become one of the Neurosurgical Units in Uzbekistan to perform surgeries applying modern surgical modalities.

Doctors and Staff of Neurosurgical Unit of the Republican Medical Center of Endocrinology and doctors from San Diego

What specific equipment have you received from the WFNS Foundation?

This year, we have received Spinal Instrument Set and bipolar coagulation device from the WFNS foundation. We submitted our application four years ago but, unfortunately, the pandemic situation with COVID-19 didn’t allow us to get this set on time. 

What is your assessment of the supply of surgical sets from the WFNS Foundation?

In general, following some official procedures, we have received our instrument set and bipolar coagulation device. 

Our instruments of the spinal set were then complete that were necessary for our daily routine surgeries. Before we would sometimes utilize the used instruments, which were bought via the online shop. 

Our previous bipolar coagulation was of the old model and we would have some breakdowns, whereas now, with the new device, our surgeries run smoothly.

What is your relationship with the WFNS Foundation?

During my work practice, I was awarded a WFNS grant for young neurosurgeons to participate in the 15th World Congress of Neurosurgery in Seoul, Korea. It was a great event providing opportunities to communicate and meet colleagues from different countries. This event took place in few months after my international fellowship program in Samsung Medical Center (Seoul, Korea) and I was happy to present my research devoted to Metastatic diseases of the cervical spine.

Dr. Abdufarrukh Karimov and the team

What does the WFNS Foundation contribute to your training as a specialist?

Increasing numbers of Post-Graduate Training Centers of WFNS and its expansion of geographical reach out contribute to wider opportunities for education for many specialists, particularly young neurosurgeons to acquire comprehensive neurosurgery. Currently, I am the Director and Chairman of the new Neurosurgical Program at the National Neurology and Stroke Center that closely cooperate with Japanese government organizations.

This clinic is not fully established yet but in near future – when it will open and start operating – we can become one of the most crucial and advanced Neuroscience institutes not only in our country but in the whole region.

We hope to collaborate with WFNS and conduct training and hands-on courses, which are very important for neurosurgeons in our as well as surrounding countries.

Dr. Karimov (Spinal Neurosurgeon) and Dr. Paul Kim (Orthopedic Spine Surgeon)

What is the biggest challenge you are currently facing as a neurosurgeon?

Of course, similar to other developing countries, our neurosurgeons have a shortage of equipment and instruments. Moreover, in most elective surgery cases, patients should cover the costs by themselves, especially when they need surgery involving implants or other expensive devices. 

Government helps in a lot of cases to cover their treatment costs in hospitals. Furthermore, our local market doesn’t offer a good variety of implants or devices – the reason for that is the lack of education for specialists and staff that can apply these implants.

Our team with doctors from San Diego Spine Institute (California, USA) during first MIS-TLIF surgery in Uzbekistan

«We hope to collaborate with WFNS and conduct training and hands-on courses, which are very important for neurosurgeons in our as well as surrounding countries»