Oral and maxillofacial surgical conditions in Nigeria.
Background: The worldwide pattern of oral and maxillofacial surgical conditions has been rarely reported despite its significance in head and neck medicine. The Niger Delta region comprises 9 of the 36 states in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. There are scanty reports on oral and maxillofacial surgical diseases from the region despite its 95% contribution to Nigeria\'s oil-revenue.
Methods: This retrospective survey of oral/maxillofacial surgical cases seen at a referral center in Port Harcourt, a city in the Niger delta region of Nigeria.
Results: Between 2000 and 2004, our center offered specialized maxillofacial surgical services to 86 patients coming from 5 states in the Niger delta region. These patients made up 20% of all patients seen at the department within the period. There were 110 indications for surgical interventions. Most were complaints of trauma (46.4%). The rest were tumors and allied lesions (39.0%) and cysts (12.7%). Ratio of male to female patients was 1.7:1 while patients were aged between 9 and 85years (mean 31.2years, standard deviation ±15.4). Most (n = 63, 73%) had surgical treatment while a significant
proportion (19%) defaulted. Seventy -nine surgical procedures were performed (69 primary and 10 secondary). Primary procedures included maxillo-mandibular fixation (31.9%) and enucleation of tumor/cyst (17.4%). While our series of 86 cases over 4years appears low, there is likelihood that oral and maxillofacial surgical conditions are as common in the Niger Delta region as in other parts of Nigeria. There is scarcity of skilled manpower and equipments for the management of oral maxillofacial surgical conditions in the region. Health promotion activities are needed to improve awareness for early
diagnosis of these conditions. Also, poverty alleviation measures need to be effective as defaults were often due to inability to pay for treatment.
Conclusion: In many parts of the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, oral and maxillofacial surgical diseases are not uncommon causes of morbidity. However, many parts of the region lack requisite manpower for prevention and curative health activities. Defaults from hospital treatment were due to preference for traditional (unorthodox) measures and financial inability. Poverty alleviation measures need to be stepped up while the state of medical infrastructure should be enhanced in the region.
Keywords: oral, maxillofacial, diseases, trauma, tumors, cysts, cancer
Annals of African Medicine Vol. 7 (1) 2008 pp. 29-34