Abu Dhabi, UAE: Young children experiencing severe abdominal discomfort or colic could be suffering from a rather simple condition that can be resolved with a laxative. Unfortunately, they are often wrongfully misdiagnosed, and end up undergoing complex procedures, a well-known paediatric expert in Abu Dhabi has found.
Dr Ameen Al Gohary, consultant for paediatric surgery at Burjeel Hospital in Abu Dhabi, said that the wrong diagnoses occur because the symptoms are often mistakenly linked to another common childhood abdominal condition, known as intussusception.
“In many children, however, I find that the pain is caused because hardened faecal matter blocks the end of the small intestine or beginning of the large intestine. I have recorded at least 16 such cases in the last five years among children between the ages of nine months and five years,” Dr Al Gohary told Gulf News.
The phenomenon has not previously been investigated or reported, and Dr Al Gohary’s observations have led to the condition becoming known as Gohary’s disease. Unfortunately, the incidence of the condition appears to be on the rise, which is why it is especially important to prevent erroneous diagnoses.
Dr Al Gohary first came across a case of this newly reported phenomenon while practising in the United States in 1980. His recent findings were published last year in the British Medical Journal, one of the world’s oldest peer-reviewed general medical journals.
In the last two months alone, Dr Al Gohary said four patients were referred to him who had been wrongly been diagnosed with intussusception but who actually had Gohary’s disease.
“To treat intussusception, an x-ray based procedure is required. But if the child has Gohary’s disease (medically described as faecal impaction of the terminal portion of the ileum and caecum), a wrongful diagnosis means that the child will unnecessarily be subjected to an X-ray procedure when a lubricant laxative itself can be effective,” he said.
The doctor says more children are developing Gohary’s disease because they consume diets low in fibre and high in junk content.
Dr Bassel Shaaban, consultant paediatrician at Al Noor Hospital, said he was interested in knowing more about Dr Al Gohary’s conclusions.
“At this stage, I believe that if a child presents with abdominal pain and also has other common symptoms linked to intussusception, such as jelly-like stool and severe vomiting, we should not rule out intussusception. In addition, parents should trust their physician’s advice,” he said.
He added that hardened stool is also fairly uncommon in children below the age of nine months.
“That said, hardened stool and associated constipation is the top cause for abdominal pain among children over a year older,” Dr Shaaban added.
© Gulf NewsJan 2016