Nigerian Journal of Surgery

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Broomstick Injuries to the Eye; an Emerging Cause of Blindness among Children in Nigeria

CU Ukponmwan, RO Momoh


Background: Ocular trauma among children is responsible for a high incidence of uni‑ocular blindness.
Objective: To evaluate the pattern of presentation and complications from broomstick eye injury at University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin City with a view to proffering solutions on ways to reduce this trend.
Materials and Methods: The hospital records of all consecutive patients who suffered ocular trauma from broomstick injury and presented at the eye clinic of the UBTH between 2003 and 2014 were evaluated. Information retrieved from the case records included social demographic characteristics, interval between the occurrence of injury and presentation, mechanism of injury, activity at time of injury, examination findings, treatments and complications. Data were analyzed using SPSS, IBM, Chicago, USA.
Results: A total of 20 eyes in 20 patients were seen. They were all children <14 years old. The mean age was 7.10 ± 4.03 (standard deviation) years. The male: female ratio was 3:1. Twelve children (60%) sustained trauma from broomstick shot as a missile with a rubber band and/or catapult sling by other children and siblings while at play. Ten children (50%) presented within 24 h of occurrence of the injury. Nineteen (95%, n = 19) of the children were blind at presentation in the affected eye with visual acuity ranging from count finger to no light perception. Ninety percent (90%) of the cases were open globe injuries. Only 10% (n = 2) were closed (lamellar) injuries. Most of the patients had multiple complications such as corneal laceration (80%), traumatic cataract (40%), endophthalmitis/panophthalmitis (55%) and orbital cellulitis (15%).
Conclusion: Ocular trauma from broomstick results in devastating, penetrating eye injury with loss of vision. Young male children are vulnerable as targets of dangerous game‑play. Primary prevention is important by sensitization of caregivers and children of the risks. There is a need for effective supervision of children when at play.

Keywords: Broom stick, complications, eye, injuries
AJOL African Journals Online