MECONIUM PERITONITIS IN NIGERIAN CHILDREN
Background: Meconium peritonitis is a rare disease with a fatal outcome. In Nigeria and Africa, there are only the occasional case reports on the subject matter.
Methods: This is a 10-year retrospective study of all patients with meconium peritonitis treated at the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri, Borno State, the Lagos University Teaching
Hospital, Lagos State, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals complex, Ile-Ife, Osun State and the Federal Medical Centre Gombe, Gombe State, Nigeria.
Results: There were 10 neonates comprising 6 girls and 4 boys. The median age at presentation was 4 days (range 2-6 days). Six of the mothers of the children with meconium peritonitis had a supervised
antenatal care and 4 had antenatal ultrasonography but meconium peritonitis was missed. The most common clinical presentation was abdominal distension at birth in 9 of 10 patients. The abdominal Xrays
showed calcification and homogenous opacity in 4 patients and pneumoperitoneum in 2 patients. At laparotomy, all the patients had inflammatory adhesion bands and matted bowel loops. The
generalized type was the commonest form observed (7 patients) and giant pseudocyst was noted in 2 patients. The commonest sites of perforation were the ileum in 4 patients and jejunum in 3 patients. In
one patient the perforation had sealed at laparotomy. Intestinal obstruction was the commonest cause of meconium peritonitis in 7 of 10 patients. In the remaining 3 patients the cause is unknown. The
commonest procedure performed was resection and anastomosis (4 patients). The mortality rate was high (50%).
Conclusion: Our data revealed the rarity of meconium peritonitis and intestinal obstruction as the commonest cause. It is recommended that in patients with an unidentifiable cause a rectal biopsy should be done to rule out Hirschsprung’s disease. Early diagnosis, proper operative procedure and meticulous post-operative care should improve their survival