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Purpose: Gastrointestinal (GI) injuries in children following blunt abdominal trauma is rare; early diagnosis and treatment is important for good outcome. The purpose of this report is to describe the management problems encountered in children with GI injuries following blunt abdominal trauma. Patients and Methods: From January 1996 June 2006, 168 children were treated at our centre for abdominal trauma. Twenty three had GI injuries, 19 were due to blunt trauma while four were due to penetrating trauma. We retrospectively reviewed the clinical data of the 19 children that had GI injuries as
a result of blunt abdominal trauma to document the presentation, clinical features, diagnosis and outcome. Results: There were 19 patients, 14 were boys, and five were girls. The median age at presentation was nine years (range 1.5 15 years). Road traffic accident was responsible for injuries in 10, fall from heights in six and assault in two children. In one child the cause of injury was not recorded. Most children presented late and at presentation over 80% had abdominal signs. Diagnosis was mainly by physical examination supported by plain abdominal x-ray in 15 children. All 19 children had laparotomy. There were a total of 23 injuries. Gastric and duodenal injuries accounted for one each. Most of the injuries were
in the jejunum and ileum (10 perforations, two contusions with one mesenteric haematoma and one mesenteric tear). There was one caecal perforation and six colonic injuries , one of which was associated with intraperitoneal rectal injury. Five children had other associated injuries (three splenic injuries, one renal injury, one bladder contusion associated with long bone fractures and one severe closed head injury). Treatment included segmental resection with end to end anastomosis, wedge resection with anastomosis, exteriorizations stomas, simple excision of the perforation and closure in two layers (gastric perforation). The total mortality was four (21.1%), two of them due to associated injuries. Conclusion: Gastrointestinal injuries due to blunt abdominal trauma pose a management challenge.
Management based on decisions from serial clinical examinations and simple tests without recourse to advance imaging techniques may suffice.
Keywords: Gastrointestinal injury, Blunt abdominal trauma, children.
Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice Vol. 11 (3) 2008: pp. 250-253