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Year : 2009  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 192-195

Challenges of managing paediatric abdominal trauma in a Nigerian setting

Division of Paediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
E A Ameh
Division of Paediatric Surgery, Department of Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 19764673

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BACKGROUND: The management of abdominal trauma (particularly blunt trauma) has undergone tremendous revolution in the last 30 years with significant reduction in morbidity and mortality in developed countries. The aim of this report is to highlight the challenges of managing abdominal trauma in children in Nigeria based on our experience in Zaria, northern Nigeria. METHOD: This is a retrospective review of 82 children managed for abdominal trauma from 1991 2002 at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria. Information regarding demographics, mechanism of injury, haemodynamic status at presentation, clinical and radiologic evaluation, management, intraoperative findings and outcome, were extracted from case notes, operation notes and discharge summary notes. RESULTS: Fifty seven (69.5%) children had blunt trauma, mostly from traffic accidents (32, 57%) and falls (20, 36%), and 25 (30.5%) penetrating trauma mainly from falls onto sharp objects (7 of 18 patients) and animal-related injuries (5 of 18 patients). In the management of those with blunt trauma, advanced imaging modalities were usually not available and this resulted in an unnecessary laparotomy rate of 51% (laparotomy considered unnecessary because the patients remained haemodynamically stable after resuscitation and any intraperitoneal bleeding had stopped by the time oflaparotomy and no active operative measure was required to control bleeding). The management of penetrating trauma was more straightforward as this was guided by evidence of peritoneal penetration. Mortality from blunt trauma was 14.5% (8 of 55 patients) from exsanguinations before surgery 2, gastric perforation 3, hepatic laceration 2 and splenic injury one. Mortality from penetrating trauma was 12% (3 of 25 patients) from tetanus, overwhelming infection and haemorrhage respectively. The overall mortality from abdominal injury was 13.8% (11 of 80 patients) and were mostly avoidable if the patients presented early, and received some resuscitation before arrival at our hospital. CONCLUSION: The management of blunt abdominal trauma in children in Nigeria is faced with several challenges, which are mainly absence of an organised trauma system and lack of appropriate facilities. These need to be addressed in order to improve the care of these injuries.

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