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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 198-203

Chemical burns of the head and neck following assault in Zaria, North West Nigeria: A demographic and clinical profile

1 Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic Surgery, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Kaduna State, Nigeria
2 Department of Surgery, Division of Plastic surgery, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin, Edo state, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Ibrahim Abdulrasheed
Division of Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, PMB 06, ABUTH, Shika Zaria, Kaduna state
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DOI: 10.4103/2384-5147.144743

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Background: Chemical burns sustained following assault, represent a considerable medical and financial challenge for the society. These patients have poorer outcomes, are difficult to manage, and represent an economic drain on an already-strained health care system. This article explores the peculiar presentation and management of chemical burns of the head and neck in Zaria, North West Nigeria. Materials and Methods: The study was performed between April 2004 and June 2013. A retrospective medical records review was undertaken to select patients who had burn injuries to the head and neck from chemicals in the setting of an assault. Recorded information included details of the patient demographics, clinical presentation and treatment. Records with incomplete data were excluded. Results: The motive for the assault in three victims was revenge for perceived injustices at school and work, and in the setting of a relationship that had gone sour in one patient. The assailant was known to the victims in two of the chemical assault. The upper eyelids, nose and the scalp were most commonly injured. Two patients sustained chemical burns to the eyes with complete loss of vision, (no light perception) and three developed mentosternal contractures. Twenty six reconstructive procedures were carried out and these patients underwent an average of three operations each during admission in the hospital. The average hospital stay was 5 months with a range of 1-14 months. Conclusion: There was a preponderance of male patients and most of the perpetrators were men. Motive was reduced to three categories robbery, matters related to love or the lack of it and revenge. Majority of the patients in this study had burns <30% of the total body surface area, however more than half of the patients required three or more surgical procedures. A multidimensional approach will be required to prevent chemical assault through heightening awareness, legislation and enforcement.

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