Pediatric Neuropathology in Africa: Local Experience in Nigeria and Challenges and Prospects for the Continent

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Abstract

The present state of pediatric neuropathology practice is in rudimentary developmental stages in most parts of sub-Saharan Africa. We sought to determine the pattern of neurosurgical lesions in children diagnosed in southwestern Nigeria and briefly address issues surrounding the practice of this aspect of pathology in Africa. We performed a retrospective review of histopathologic results of biopsies obtained from pediatric patients with neurosurgical lesions at the Department of Pathology, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospitals Complex, Ile–Ife, Nigeria, between January 2001 and December 2011. Demographic and clinical data were extracted from the Ife-Ijesha cancer registry and histopathological diagnoses were confirmed. A total of 111 biopsies were reviewed with a maximum of 17 in 2001 and minimum of 3 in 2005. Patient ages ranged between 1 day and 16 years with a male:female ratio of 1.02:1. There were 53 spinal lesions, 15 intracranial lesions, 36 scalp masses, 6 skull lesions and 1 muscle biopsy. Most of the specimens were from myelomeningoceles. This documentation of the major types of pediatric neurological conditions encountered in clinical practice in this relatively resource-limited setting indicate the need for collaboration with better developed centers to improve training in neurosurgery and neuropathology to enhance the quality of clinical care for young patients in Africa.

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