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Foreign body in the gastrointestinal tract in children: A tertiary hospital experience.

BACKGROUND: Foreign body (FB) ingestion in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) in children is common. Although most foreign bodies will pass spontaneously, surgical intervention is required when they fail to pass.

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to evaluate our experience in the management of children who presented with FB in the GIT.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This was a retrospective study of children that underwent laparotomy for the removal of FB in the GIT at the paediatric surgery unit of Enugu State University Teaching Hospital, Enugu over a 10-year period.

RESULTS: A total of 272 children presented with FB in the GIT during the study period, out of which 30 patients had laparotomy. This gave an operative incidence rate of 11%. There was a slight male predominance and the ages of the patients ranged from 6 months to 5 years (median 3 years). About half of the patients had no symptoms and all the patients were investigated with an abdominal radiograph. Only one-third of the patients had a predisposing factor that could have led to FB impaction. FB impaction was the most common indication for surgery, and enterotomy with FB removal was the most performed surgical procedure. The most common FB removed were tiny parts of toys, and the most common post-operative complication was surgical site infection. There was no mortality.

CONCLUSION: FB in GIT in children could be associated with complications that require surgical treatment. FB ingestion is preventable. Focus should be placed on caregivers preventing children from ingesting FB.

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