Radiological diagnosis of pneumoperitoneum in children with typhoid intestinal perforation

  • Lofty-John C. Anyanwu
  • Aminu M. Mohammad
  • Mohammed K. Saleh
  • Lawal B. Abdullahi
  • Aliyu U. Farinyaro
  • Stephen K. Obaro
Keywords: pneumoperitoneum, typhoid intestinal perforation, radiographs, children, air–fluid levels


Background: Typhoid fever is a severe systemic illness caused by the gram-negative bacillus Salmonella typhi and transmitted by the faecal-oral route. This study sought to determine the value of plain abdominal and chest radiographs in detecting pneumoperitoneum in children with typhoid intestinal perforation (TIP).

Methods: A retrospective review of plain abdominal and chest radiographs of children who had surgery for TIP between June 2009 and December 2011 in our unit. All the films were reviewed by the same radiologist who was blinded to the intraoperative findings, for the presence or absence of various signs of pneumoperitoneum. Data were collected on a structured questionnaire and analysed using SPSS version 15.0.

Results: Radiographs of 54 children were reviewed. Their ages ranged from 3 years to 13 years (median 7 years). Thirty-three of them were boys and 21 were girls (male-to-female ratio 1.57:1). Pneumoperitoneum was detected in 47 patients (87%). In the erect abdominothoracic films, air under the right hemidiaphragm was detected in 16 of 41 cases (39%), and extraluminal or intraperitoneal air-fluid levels in 31 of 41 cases (75.6%). In the supine abdominal films, the commonest sign of pneumoperitoneum was the right upper quadrant gas sign (23 of 50 cases; 46%).

Conclusions: A careful interpretation of plain abdominal and chest radiographs in the child suspected to have TIP, would lead to more accurate diagnosis of pneumoperitoneum.

Keywords: pneumoperitoneum; typhoid intestinal perforation; radiographs; children; air–fluid levels


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2073-9990