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Open Access Research article

Cut throat injuries at a university teaching hospital in northwestern Tanzania: a review of 98 cases

Japhet M Gilyoma12, Kiyeti A Hauli3 and Phillipo L Chalya2*

Author Affiliations

1 Otorhinolaryngology unit, Bugando Medical Centre, Mwanza, Tanzania

2 Department of Surgery, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences-Bugando, Mwanza, Tanzania

3 Department of Psychiatry, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences-Bugando, Mwanza, Tanzania

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BMC Emergency Medicine 2014, 14:1  doi:10.1186/1471-227X-14-1

Published: 14 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Cut throat injuries though rarely reported in literature pose a great therapeutic challenge because multiple vital structures are vulnerable to injuries in the small, confined unprotected area. A sudden increase in the number of cut throat patients in our centre in recent years prompted the authors to analyze this problem. This study was conducted in our local setting to describe the etiology, patterns and treatment outcome of these injuries.

Methods

This was a combined retrospective and prospective study of cut throat injury patients who were managed at Bugando Medical Centre between February 2009 and January 2013. Statistical data analysis was done using SPSS software version 17.0.

Results

A total of 98 patients with cut throat injuries were studied. Males outnumbered females by a ratio of 2.4: 1. The median age of patients was 26 years (range 8 to 78 years). Majority of patients (79.6%) had no employment and most of them (65.3%) came from rural community. Homicide was the commonest (55.1%) cause, followed by suicidal attempts (34.7%) and accidental (10.2%) injuries. Interpersonal conflict (24.4%) was the most common motivating factor for homicidal injury whereas psychiatric illness (16.2%) and road traffic accidents (9.2%) were the most frequent motivating factors of suicidal attempt and accidental injuries respectively. The majority of injuries were in Zone II accounting for 65.3% of cases and most of them had laryngeal (57.1%) injury. Surgical debridement, laryngeal/hypopharynx repair and tracheostomy were the most common surgical procedures performed in 93.9%, 73.5% and 70.4% of patients respectively. Postoperative complication rate was 57.1%, the commonest being surgical site infections in 28.1% of patients and it was significantly associated with late presentation and anatomical zones (P < 0.001). The overall median duration of hospitalization was 12 days. Patients who had postoperative complications stayed longer in the hospital and this was statistically significant (p = 0.011). Mortality rate was 11.2% and was significantly associated with co-morbidities, delayed presentation and presence of complications (p < 0.001). The follow up of patients was poor.

Conclusions

Cut throat injuries are a major cause of morbidity and mortality among young adult males in our setting. Addressing the root causes of violence such as poverty, unemployment, and substance abuse will reduce the incidence of these injuries in our environment.

Keywords:
Cut throat injuries; Etiology; Patterns; Treatment outcome; Tanzania