Gastrointestinal injuries from blunt abdominal trauma in children

  • EA Ameh Senior Lecturer and Consultant Paediatric Surgeon, Paediatric Surgery Unit, Department of Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria
  • PT Nmadu Professor of Paediatric Surgery, Paediatric Surgery Unit, Department of Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria

Abstract

Objective: To determine the pattern, presentation and outcome of gastrointestinal injuries from blunt abdominal trauma in children.

Design: A retrospective study.

Setting: Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria.

Subjects: Twenty one children managed for gastrointestinal injuries from blunt trauma from 1984-2002.

Main outcome measures: The pattern, presentation, management and outcome of gastrointestinal injuries from blunt trauma.

Results: In the l9 year period, 1984-2002, 92 children were treated for blunt abdominal trauma, 21(23%) of who had injuries to the gastrointestinal tract. Three presenting after 24 hours had evidence of peritonitis. In six children with isolated gastrointestinal tract (GIT) injury who presented within two hours, abdominal signs were vague at initial evaluation but became marked over a few hours at repeated examination. In eight with associated intraabdominal injuries, abdominal signs were marked at initial examination and five presented with shock. Free peritoneal air was present on plain abdominal and chest radiograph in three of ten patients, dilated bowel loops in six and fluid levels in one. Diagnostic peritoneal lavage or paracentesis was positive in four patients with isolated GIT injuries and eight with associated intraabdominal injuries. There were 24 injuries in the 21 patients consisting of 15 perforations, five contusions, two seromuscular tears, and two gangrene from mesenteric injury. The small intestine was involved in 11 patients, colon six, stomach five, duodenum one and rectum one. Seven (35%) patients had associated extraabdominal injuries. Treatment consisted of simple closure of perforations, over sewing of contusions, resection and anastomosis for gangrene and repair with protective stoma for the rectal injury. One patient each developed prolonged ileus, urinary tract infection and chest infection, respectively postoperatively. Mortality was 28%, all of who had associated intraabdominal or extraabdominal injuries.

Conclusion: Gastrointestinal injury from blunt abdominal trauma in children, though uncommon, carries a high mortality, usually from associated intraabdominal or extraabdominal injuries.

East African Medical Journal Vol. 81 No. 4 April 2004: 194-197
Published
2004-08-20
Section
Articles

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eISSN: 0012-835X