BACKGROUND: In many low- and middle-income countries, data on the prevalence of surgical diseases have been derived primarily from hospital-based studies, which may lead to an underestimation of disease burden within the community. Community-based prevalence studies may provide better estimates of surgical need to enable proper resource allocation and prioritization of needs. This study aims to assess the prevalence of common surgical conditions among children in a diverse rural and urban population in Nigeria.
METHODS: Descriptive cross-sectional, community-based study to determine the prevalence of congenital and acquired surgical conditions among children in a diverse rural-urban area of Nigeria was conducted. Households, defined as one or more persons 'who eat from the same pot' or slept under the same roof the night before the interview, were randomized for inclusion in the study. Data was collected using an adapted and modified version of the interviewer-administered questionnaire-Surgeons OverSeas Assessment of Surgical Need (SOSAS) survey tool and analysed using the REDCap web-based analytic application.
MAIN RESULTS: Eight-hundred-and-fifty-six households were surveyed, comprising 1,883 children. Eighty-one conditions were identified, the most common being umbilical hernias (20), inguinal hernias (13), and wound injuries to the extremities (9). The prevalence per 10,000 children was 85 for umbilical hernias (95% CI: 47, 123), and 61 for inguinal hernias (95% CI: 34, 88). The prevalence of hydroceles and undescended testes was comparable at 22 and 26 per 10,000 children, respectively. Children with surgical conditions had similar sociodemographic characteristics to healthy children in the study population.
CONCLUSION: The most common congenital surgical conditions in our setting were umbilical hernias, while injuries were the most common acquired conditions. From our study, it is estimated that there will be about 2.9 million children with surgically correctable conditions in the nation. This suggests an acute need for training more paediatric surgeons.