Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Emergency Medicine International
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 108247, 5 pages
Research Article

Morbidity and Mortality following Traditional Uvulectomy among Children Presenting to the Muhimbili National Hospital Emergency Department in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

1Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
2Muhimbili National Hospital, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
3University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
4Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC, USA

Received 3 April 2015; Revised 3 June 2015; Accepted 4 June 2015

Academic Editor: Wen-Jone Chen

Copyright © 2015 H. R. Sawe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Background. Traditional uvulectomy is performed as a cultural ritual or purported medical remedy. We describe the associated emergency department (ED) presentations and outcomes. Methods. This was a subgroup analysis of a retrospective review of all pediatric visits to our ED in 2012. Trained abstracters recorded demographics, clinical presentations, and outcomes. Results. Complete data were available for 5540/5774 (96%) visits and 56 (1.0%, 95% CI: 0.7–1.3%) were related to recent uvulectomy, median age 1.3 years (interquartile range: 7 months–2 years) and 30 (54%) were male. Presenting complaints included cough (82%), fever (46%), and hematemesis (38%). Clinical findings included fever (54%), tachypnea (30%), and tachycardia (25%). 35 patients (63%, 95% CI: 49–75%) received intravenous antibiotics, 11 (20%, 95% CI: 10–32%) required blood transfusion, and 3 (5%, 95% CI: 1–15%) had surgical intervention. All were admitted to the hospital and 12 (21%, 95% CI: 12–34%) died. By comparison, 498 (9.1%, 95% CI: 8–10%) of the 5484 children presenting for reasons unrelated to uvulectomy died (). Conclusion. In our cohort, traditional uvulectomy was associated with significant morbidity and mortality. Emergency care providers should advocate for legal and public health interventions to eliminate this dangerous practice.