Birhanu Ayana, Seid Mohammed Yasin, Bahiru Bezabih, Biruk L. Wamisho


Introduction: Limb amputation in pediatric age group is relatively infrequent compared to adults and is often associated with profound social, psychological and economic impacts on the growing child and family. There is few published literature specifying the cause of limb amputation in pediatrics in Ethiopia. The aim of this study is to determine the cause and patterns of paediatric limb amputation at 'Tikur Anbessa' specialized hospital and make recommendations towards reducing the incidence.

Methods: This was a retrospective study conducted at ‘Tikur Anbessa’ Specialized teaching Hospital between May 2005 and April 2015. Data were retrieved from medical records and operation logbook of all pediatric patients aged 15 years and below who underwent limb amputations during the study period. Information regarding age, sex, indications and levels of amputation were studied.

Results: A total number of 99 patients with 102 amputations were involved in the study. Their age ranged between 4 and 15 years with mean age of 10.5 ( SD ±3.2) years. There were 75 boys and 24 girls (male: female ratio=3.1:1). The most common indication for limb amputation was gangrene arising from treatment of limb injuries by traditional bone setters, locally called “Wogeshas” (55.5%), followed by malignancy (29.2%) and trauma (11.1%). An intractable bone and soft tissue infection accounted only for 2% of the amputations (2). Three limb amputations in one patient and two in another one were due to a condition with unclear vascular etiology resulting in multiple gangrenous limbs. Majority of the amputations were in the upper limbs.

Conclusion: Traditional bone setters’ practice related gangrene, late presenting musculoskeletal malignancy and trauma were the three most common causes for pediatric limb amputation in Ethiopia. Given that, all are non-communicable conditions, we can conclude that the majority of the amputations could have been prevented by provision of health education, early presentation and appropriate treatment in a modern health facility.

 Keywords: pediatrics, limb amputation, gangrene, traditional bone setters, “Wogeshas”.


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