Dedicated WhatsApp Messenger Use in Neurosurgery: A Systematic Review

Taiwo Akhigbe, Ardalan Zolnourian


Introduction: Outdated communication technology in neurosurgery can place effective patient care and safety in jeopardy. Patients care in neurosurgery has significantly improved with the introduction of modern equipment and recent technology for effective and efficient patient care. WhatsApp represents as a safe, efficient, easily affordable and cost effective technology. This study aims to review the use of dedicated WhatsApp for facilitating communication in neurosurgery setting for the first time and discusses its attendant effect on ethics, professional and social implication.

Methods: A systematic literature search was performed to evaluate and analyse current evidence with regards to dedicated WhatsApp use in neurosurgery using databases including Medline, EMBASE and Google Scholar. The keywords employed in this search strategy include WhatsApp, social media, ethics, professionalism, and neurosurgery. The inclusion criteria are any type of study relevant to the review, studies on adult human patients only, papers only published in English and seminal papers relevant to this study.

Results: The systematic literature search yielded 750 articles. Furthermore, twelve studies were identified after the removal of non-relevant studies and duplicates. Final screen of eligibility for dedicated WhatsApp Messenger usage yielded two articles. A prospective observational study by Kankane et al. and a letter by Graziano et al., which described in detail WhatsApp use in neurosurgical centers. Also, in five neurosurgical centers, dedicated WhatsApp use were identified. Currently there is significant paucity of evidence of WhatsApp use in Neurosurgery.

Conclusion: The inventor of WhatsApp has widely helped in developing a completely novel and innovative technology with the potential to improve patient care. This is while, the current form of WhatsApp has been considered to be unsafe in terms of ethical implication to handle patient data and eventually, is inappropriate for use in clinical environments. It can be mentioned that a more secure alternative will definitely come to use in clinical environments.


WhatsApp; Social Media; Ethics; Professionalism; Neurosurgery

Full Text:



Johnston MJ, King D, Arora S, Behar N, Athanasiou T, Sevdalis N, et al. Smartphones let surgeons know WhatsApp: an analysis of communication in emergency surgical teams. Am J Surg. 2015;209(1):45-51. doi: 10.1016/j.amjsurg.2014. 08.030. pmid: 25454952.

Correspondent, Facebook to Buy Messaging App WhatsApp for $19bn, BBC News R.T.A.T. [updated 2017April 11, 2015]. Available from: -26266689.

D'oh! Basic Flaw in WhatsApp Could Allow Attackers to Decrypt Messages. PCWorld 2013 [updated 2018; cited September 13, 2016]. Available from:

WhatsApp Encryption Overview; Privacy and Security is in our DNA 2016 [updated 2018September 13, 2016]. Available from:

Kankane VK, Jaiswal G, Gupta TK. Apply of WhatsApp: A quick, simple, smarty and cost competent method of communication in neurosurgery. Romanian Neurosurg. 2016;30(2):306-12. doi: 10.1515/romneu-2016-0049.

Graziano F, Maugeri R, Giugno A, Iacopino D. WhatsAPP in neurosurgery: the best practice is in our hands. Acta Neurochirurgica. 2016;11(158):2173-4.

NHS England, Risk alert—using apps to share data, NHS Engl Inf Gov Bull. Leeds: NHS England: 2014.

NHS England, WhatsApp “to be encrypted,” NHS Engl Inf. Gov. Bull. Leeds: NHS England: 2015.

Bradshaw T, Dembosky A. WhatsApp Accused of Breaking Privacy Rules, Financial Times 2013 [updated 2017September 13, 2016]. Available from:

Laver N. Companies bare burden for data protection, LexisNexis UK Leg. News Anal 2013 [September 13, 2016]. Available from:

Hutchinson S, Rutgers L, Eilander M. News Release; WhatsApp’s violation of privacy law partly resolved after investigation by data protection authorities 2013 [September 13, 2016]. Available from:


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Creative Commons License
International Journal of Medical Reviews is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.