Neonatal intestinal obstruction in Benin, Nigeria

Afr J Paediatr Surg. 2009 Jul-Dec;6(2):98-101. doi: 10.4103/0189-6725.54772.


Background: Intestinal obstruction is a life threatening condition in the newborn, with attendant high mortality rate especially in underserved subregion. This study reports the aetiology, presentation, and outcome of intestinal obstruction management in neonates.

Materials and methods: A prospective study of neonatal intestinal obstruction at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin, Nigeria, between January 2006-June 2008. Data were collated on a structured proforma and analysed for age, sex, weight, presentation, type/date of gestation/delivery, aetiology, clinical presentation, associated anomaly, treatment, and outcome.

Results: There were 71 neonates, 52 were males and 19 were females (2.7:1). Their age range was between 12 hours and 28 days (mean, 7.9 +/- 2.7 days) and they weighed between 1.8 and 5.2 kg (average, 3.2 kg). The causes of intestinal obstruction were: Anorectal anomaly, 28 (39.4%); Hirschsprung's disease, 8 (11.3%)' prematurity, 3 (4.2%); meconeum plug, 2 (2.8%); malrotation, 6 (8.5%); intestinal atresia, 8 (11.3%); necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), 4 (5.6%); obstructed hernia, 4 (5.6%); and spontaneous gut perforation, 3 (4.2%). Also, 27 (38%) children had colostomy, 24 (33.8%) had laparotomy, 9 (12.8%) had anoplasty, while 11 (15.4%) were managed nonoperatively. A total of 41 (57.7%) neonates required incubator, 26 (36.6%) needed total parenteral nutrition, while 15 (21.1%) require d paediatric ventilator. Financial constraint, late presentation, presence of multiple anomalies, aspiration, sepsis, gut perforation, and bowel gangrene were the main contributors to death. Neonates with lower obstructions had a better outcome compared to those having upper intestinal obstruction ( P < 0.0001).

Conclusion: Outcomes of intestinal obstruction are still poor in our setting; late presentation, financial constraints, poor parental motivation and lack of basic facilities were the major determinants of mortality.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Obstruction / etiology*
  • Intestinal Obstruction / mortality*
  • Intestinal Obstruction / surgery
  • Male
  • Nigeria / epidemiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome