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Epidemiological study of peritonitis among children and factors predicting mortality at a tertiary referral hospital in Rwanda

Emmanuel Mutabazi
Alex Bonane
Alain J. Ndibanje
Jennifer Rickard


Background: Peritonitis is a commonly encountered paediatric surgical emergency. We conducted this study to identify common causes of peritonitis among Rwandan children and factors affecting morbidity and mortality.

Methods: The study sample consisted of children with peritonitis who underwent surgical treatment at a tertiary referral hospital in Rwanda from 1 September 2015 to 28 February 2016. Collected data included sociodemographic, clinical, paraclinical, management, and outcome information. The analysis included Pearson's chi-square test and multivariate logistic regression to determine factors associated with morbidity and mortality.

Results: Of 63 patients, 28 were female. Ages ranged from 4 months to 15 years, with a mean of 8.8 years. Seventy-three percent of patients presented within the first week of symptom onset. Appendicular perforation (25.4%) and gangrenous intussusception (23.8%) were the most common causes of peritonitis.

Fourteen patients (22.2%) died. On multivariate analysis, factors associated with mortality included sepsis (odds ratio [OR] = 11.60; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.15 to 62.5; P = 0.004) and intensive care unit (ICU) admission (OR = 7.38; 95% CI = 1.20 to 45.3; P = 0.031).

Conclusions: Peritonitis among children is common and bears significant morbidity and mortality at our centre. Training of healthcare providers in district hospitals for early recognition of peritonitis, and improved ICU care availability may reduce mortality secondary to peritonitis in children.

Keywords: epidemiology; peritonitis; paediatric surgery; Rwanda