Surgical management of Buruli ulcer disease: A four year experience from four endemic districts in Ghana

  • EJK Adu
  • E Ampadu
  • D Acheampong
Keywords: Mycobacterium ulcerans, Buruli ulcer, skin grafting, contracture, antibiotics


Background: Mycobacterium ulcerans (MU) disease causes extensive destruction of tissues leaving large ulcers on the body. Management which consisted of surgical excision of the lesions is gradually being
replaced with chemotherapy.
Objective: To study the impact on surgery of prior treatment of MU disease with rifampicin and streptomycin.
Study Design: Retrospective, from September 2004
to September 2009.
Setting: Asunafo, Amansie West, Ahafo Ano and Amansie Central districts of Ghana.
Methods: Patients who have completed 8 weeks or a minimum of 4 weeks treatment with rifampicin and streptomycin but have unhealed lesions were selected for surgery.
Results: 132 patients had surgery for MU disease; 51 at Tepa (Ahafo Ano); 36 at Agroyesum (Amansie West); 16 from Jacobu (Amansie Central); 29 from Goaso (Asunafo) districts. Their ages ranged from 4
to 98 years, with mean age of 29.90 years, standard deviation of 20.74. Sites involved were: head and neck 1 (0.74%), upper limb 40 (29.63%), lower limb 92 (68.15%), trunk 2 (1.48%) (N=135). The clinical
forms were: papule 1 (0.74%), nodule 2 (1.48%), oedematous lesion 4 (2.96%), osteomyelitis 2 (1.48%), ulcers 124 (91.85%), contractures 2
(1.48%). 139 surgical procedures were performed: excision 25 (18.11), skin grafting 36 (26.1%), excision and skin grafting 54 (39.1%), debridem net 10 (7.2%), sequestrectomy 2 (1.4%), regrafting 10 (7.2%), release of contractures 2 (1.4%).
Conclusion: Treatment of MU disease with rifampicin and streptomycin improved the condition and minimised the extent of surgery. Combination of surgery and antibiotics is necessary to prevent the development

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print ISSN: 0016-9560