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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Gastric outlet obstruction at Bugando Medical Centre in Northwestern Tanzania: a prospective review of 184 cases

Hyasinta Jaka12, Mabula D Mchembe3, Peter F Rambau4 and Phillipo L Chalya5*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences- Bugando, Mwanza, Tanzania

2 Endoscopic unit, Bugando Medical Center, Mwanza, Tanzania

3 Department of Surgery, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

4 Department of Pathology, Catholic University of Health and Allied Sciences- Bugando, Mwanza, Tanzania

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

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BMC Surgery 2013, 13:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2482-13-41

Published: 25 September 2013



Gastric outlet obstruction poses diagnostic and therapeutic challenges to general surgeons practicing in resource-limited countries. There is a paucity of published data on this subject in our setting. This study was undertaken to highlight the etiological spectrum and treatment outcome of gastric outlet obstruction in our setting and to identify prognostic factors for morbidity and mortality.


This was a descriptive prospective study which was conducted at Bugando Medical Centre between March 2009 and February 2013. All patients with a clinical diagnosis of gastric outlet obstruction were, after informed consent for the study, consecutively enrolled into the study. Statistical data analysis was done using SPSS computer software version 17.0.


A total of 184 patients were studied. More than two-third of patients were males. Patients with malignant gastric outlet obstruction were older than those of benign type. This difference was statistically significant (p < 0.001). Gastric cancer was the commonest malignant cause of gastric outlet obstruction where as peptic ulcer disease was the commonest benign cause. In children, the commonest cause of gastric outlet obstruction was congenital pyloric stenosis (13.0%). Non-bilious vomiting (100%) and weight loss (93.5%) were the most frequent symptoms. Eighteen (9.8%) patients were HIV positive with the median CD 4+ count of 282 cells/μl. A total of 168 (91.3%) patients underwent surgery. Of these, gastro-jejunostomy (61.9%) was the most common surgical procedure performed. The complication rate was 32.1 % mainly surgical site infections (38.2%). The median hospital stay and mortality rate were 14 days and 18.5% respectively. The presence of postoperative complication was the main predictor of hospital stay (p = 0.002), whereas the age > 60 years, co-existing medical illness, malignant cause, HIV positivity, low CD 4 count (<200 cells/μl), high ASA class and presence of surgical site infection significantly predicted mortality ( p< 0.001). The follow up of patients was generally poor as more than 60% of patients were lost to follow up.


Gastric outlet obstruction in our setting is more prevalent in males and the cause is mostly malignant. The majority of patients present late with poor general condition. Early recognition of the diagnosis, aggressive resuscitation and early institution of surgical management is of paramount importance if morbidity and mortality associated with gastric outlet obstruction are to be avoided.

Gastric outlet obstruction; Etiological spectrum; Treatment; Outcome; Tanzania