Orient Journal of Medicine

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Digestive system complications among hospitalized children with sickle cell anaemia in Enugu, Nigeria

Christopher B Eke, Bartholomew F Chukwu, Benedict O Edelu, Osita U Ezenwosu, Anthony N Ikefuna, Ifeoma J Emosi


Background: Sickle cell anaemia is a multi-systemic disease with variable clinical manifestations including those involving the digestive system. There is paucity of data on the digestive system complications of sickle cell anaemia in children in our setting.
Objective: To determine the pattern of digestive system complications among hospitalized children with sickle cell anaemia in University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Ituku-Ozalla, Enugu, Nigeria.
Methodology: A 7-year retrospective observational study of cases of digestive system complications among hospitalized children with sickle cell anaemia was carried out. Relevant clinical data including socio-demographic characteristics, digestive system complications diagnosed, definitive investigations applied, treatment given and possible outcomes were extracted from the case record files of selected cases using a semi-structured questionnaire. Data were analyzed using SPSS version 21.0 (IBM Corp, Armonk, NY 2012) while the level of statistical significance was set at p<0.05.
Results: There were 350 children with sickle cell anaemia attending the sickle cell clinic out of which 33 had serious digestive system complications requiring hospitalizations during the period under review. Their mean age was 9.1±4.8years (9months to 18years).Nearly half, 16(48.5%) of the affected children were of low socio-economic background. Acute abdominal crisis, which was found in 12(36.4%) of cases was the most common complication, while cholelithiasis was the least common complication, occurring in one (3.3%) of the cases studied.
Conclusion: Acute abdominal crisis is the most common digestive system complication in children with sickle cell anaemia in our setting. Efforts should be made to exclude other potential causes of acute abdomen which may require surgical intervention in children with sickle cell anaemia. History taking, diligent physical examination and relevant laboratory and imaging studies, would readily facilitate the diagnosis, and save lives.

Keywords: Acute abdominal crisis, children, haemoglobin, hospitalization, multi-systemic

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