Anorectal injuries in children
- Cite this article as:
- Ameh, E. Pediatr Surg Int (2000) 16: 388. doi:10.1007/s003830000347
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Anorectal injuries (ARI) are uncommon in children in civil practice. In developed countries the injuries are mainly due to sexual abuse and firearms. This report reviews the experience in tropical Africa. A retrospective study of children aged 12 years or less managed for ARI over 10 years was undertaken. There were seven children, four girls and three boys. Four injuries were due to blunt trauma and three to penetrating trauma. Six patients presented within 6 h of injury and one after 24 h. Five had rectal bleeding, which was associated with vaginal bleeding in one girl. One girl each had vaginal bleeding and vaginal discharge without rectal bleeding. Diagnosis was by rectal examination and proctoscopy. In three patients a laparotomy was necessary to exclude an intraperitoneal rectal injury (IRI); this was positive in one case. One patient with abdominal findings had a laparotomy as the primary procedure. Overall, five patients had rectal injuries (extraperitoneal 3, intraperitoneal 2), which were associated with an anal injury in three while one patient had only an anal injury. An IRI was missed at initial assessment in one girl. Associated injuries were to the vaginal wall (3), urethra (1) and head (1). IRIs were treated by repair and proximal colostomy. Extraperitoneal injuries were treated by colostomy and drainage; in two patients the injuries were accessible and were repaired. Anal and external-sphincter injuries were repaired in two cases. Vaginal lacerations were repaired and other associated injuries treated accordingly. Three patients had wound infections. Faecal continence was maintained in all patients who had anal and external-sphincter injuries. One girl died of peritonitis from a missed IRI. It is concluded that ARI remains uncommon in children. Morbidity and mortality can, however, be high. Meticulous rectal palpation and visualisation is necessary to avoid missing injuries.