Non-traumatic paraplegia in Nigerian children presenting at the University College Hospital, Ibadan

Fatunde, O.J ; Lagunju, I.A ; Adeniyi, O.F ; Orimadegun, A.E (2006-03)

Scholarly articles

Article

A review of the presentation, management and outcome in all children presenting with non-traumatic paraplegia managed by the paediatric neurology team at the University College Hospital Ibadan, Nigeria from June 1989 to May 2004 is presented. Of the 110 patients, there were 54 males and 56 females giving a M:F ratio of 1:1. The mean age of the group was 5.3 (SD = 3.1) years, with a range from 9 months to 11 years. Infections and infectious processes caused the paraplegia in 102 (92.7%) of the cases with poliomyelitis and tuberculosis (TB) of the spine accounting for 88 (80%) of cases. The study period was divided into three 5 year periods. While poliomyelitis was the commonest cause of paraplegia (60%) in the first 5 years: TB spine was responsible for most cases (40%) in the last 5-year period of the study. There was a significant reduction in the total number of cases seen when the initial 5-year period was compared with the last (45 and 26 respectively, P = 0.001). Overall mortality among the 110 admitted patients was 7.2% being highest (50%) in malignant disorders and none was recorded in TB spine. Prognosis for eventual ability to walk was best in cases of TB spine where 37 of the 39 patients (95%) were ambulant by discharge after 60 days of anti-TB treatment. The 2 non-ambulant patients eventually walked within 3 months of discharge while on maintenance treatment for TB. Only 2 of the 51 non-ambulant patients obtained wheelchairs at discharge. The implications of inadequate facilities for investigation and treatment as well as the lack of financial and social support for the families of affected children are discussed.