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Open Access Research article

Presentation, aetiology and treatment of adult intussusception in a tertiary Sub-Saharan Hospital: a 10-year retrospective study

Peter A Ongom1*, Christopher K Opio2 and Stephen C Kijjambu3

Author Affiliations

1 Colorectal Unit, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, Makerere College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, PO Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

2 Gastroenterology Unit, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Makerere College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, PO Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

3 Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, Makerere College of Health Sciences, Makerere University, PO Box 7072, Kampala, Uganda

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BMC Gastroenterology 2014, 14:86  doi:10.1186/1471-230X-14-86

Published: 5 May 2014

Abstract

Background

Adult intussusception is a rare clinical condition worldwide. It contributes to less than 5% of all cases of intussusception. Few studies have been conducted in low-income countries compared to high-income countries; particularly Sub-Saharan Africa. Based on anecdotal evidence, the authors hypothesized that the condition is not as rare in a Sub-Saharan setting in comparison with western countries. We set out to conduct the first review study of adult intussusception in Uganda.

Methods

The medical records of 37 (out of a total of 62 cases) adolescent and adult patients with a postoperative diagnosis of intussusception at Mulago National Referral and Teaching Hospital, from January 2003 to December 2012, were analyzed. The clinical features, diagnosis, treatment and pathologic features of lesions for these patients were reviewed. Intraoperative findings were described with reference to: the site of the intussusception, and the triggering lesion (either idiopathic or with a lead point).

Results

The mean age was 33.6 years, with a range of 13 – 72 years. The male to female ratio was 1.85:1. The mean number of days for which symptoms had been present prior to presentation was 6.3 days, while the median was 4 days. All 37 patients presented with abdominal pain. Only 13 (35.1%) had the classical paediatric triad of abdominal pain, a palpable abdominal mass and bloody stool. Most of the remaining patients presented sub-acutely with non-specific symptoms. A lead point was present in 28 patients (75.7%). Of these, 24 (64.9%) cases involved tumours. Among the tumours, 54.2% were malignant. Treatment did not involve intussusception reduction in 14 patients (37.8%). Some form of operative surgery was conducted in 31 (83.8%) patients; mainly segmental bowel resections and hemi-colectomies.

Conclusion

Adult intussusception is uncommon in the Uganda, though probably less so than in western countries. It presents sub-acutely or chronically and is often diagnosed at laparotomy. Lead points are the triggering lesion most times and are due mainly to tumours. The bulk of tumours are malignant. Most patients require surgical resection, with prior reduction done in selected cases.

Keywords:
Adult intussusception; Sub-acute and chronic symptoms; Tumour; Malignancies; Lead point; Idiopathic; Reduction; Resection