Pan African Medical Journal

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The Spectrum of Paediatric Intestinal Obstruction in Kenya

Philip Blasto Ooko, Patricia Wambua, Mark Oloo, Agneta Odera, Hillary Mariko Topazian, Russell White


Introduction: Intestinal obstruction (IO) occurs when there is impedance to the flow of intestinal contents due to a congenital or acquired pathology, and is a common paediatric surgical emergency. This study aimed to assess the pattern and outcome of paediatric IO in western Kenya. Methods: A retrospective review of all recorded cases of mechanical IO in patients aged 15 years or below admitted at Tenwek Hospital between January 2009 and December 2013. Results: The cohort included a total of 217 children (130 boys and 87 girls). The mean age was 6.7 years (range: newborn-15 years), with most (65, 30%) cases aged 1-3 years. Vomiting (161, 74.2%), abdominal pain (152, 70%), abdominal tenderness (113, 52.1%), constipation (111, 51.2%), and abdominal distension (104, 47.9%) were the predominant signs and symptoms. The most common causes of IO were ascariasis (96, 44.2%), adhesions (34, 15.7%), and intussusception (30, 13.8%). Intussusception was the leading cause of IO in children aged≤1 year, ascariasis in children aged 1-5 and 6-10 years, and adhesions in children aged 11-15 years. Operative management was undertaken in 120 (55.3%) cases with 39 (32.5%) of these having gangrenous bowel. The overall mortality rate was 5%. Conclusion: The most common causes of mechanical bowel obstruction in this series were ascariasis, adhesions, and intussusception. Ascariasis remains a significant cause of paediatric IO in this region, thus public education, improved sanitation and deworming campaigns may be helpful in reducing the worm burden.

Pan African Medical Journal 2016; 24
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