Uvular amputation through traditional manual uvulectomy

How to cite this article:
Alamri Y. Uvular amputation through traditional manual uvulectomy. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:213


How to cite this URL:
Alamri Y. Uvular amputation through traditional manual uvulectomy. Ann Trop Med Public Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2021 Jan 19];9:213. Available from: https://www.atmph.org/text.asp?2016/9/3/213/181655

Dear Sir,

The uvula has several functions, including the modulation of speech sounds and moistening the oropharynx.[1] Although the uvula contains sparse, if any, lymphoid tissue, it has been shown to produce thin serous saliva which bathes the surrounding mucosa. We report on a patient whose uvula had been manually amputated as a child as part of a traditional medical practice.

A 52-year-old Middle Eastern female presented with a long-standing history of nasal obstruction. She had received a diagnosis of chronic sinusitis in the past. She admitted to a previous nasal surgery and tonsillectomy as an adolescent. Further enquiry revealed a remote history of manual uvulectomy (i.e., by hand) performed on her as a child without anesthesia by a traditional healer. She denied nasal regurgitation or speech problems. Nasal examination confirmed mucosal edema in both osteomeatal complexes with several polyps, but no septal deviation. Oral examination revealed a completely absent uvula and absent pharyngeal tonsils [see [Figure 1].

Figure 1: Oropharyngeal examination reveals absent uvula and palatine tonsils, but is otherwise unremarkable

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Traditional uvulectomy is an old, but still ongoing, practice common in sub-Saharan Africa [2],[3] and the Middle East.[4] Among traditional practitioners there, it is believed that the uvula is the organ underlying throat infections,[3] may also play a role in causing diarrhoea,[5] and that swelling of the uvula is a cause of neonatal death. Local traditional practitioners, who are often barbers by trade, perform a number of procedures, including circumcision, tooth extraction, and uvulectomy.[3] Part of or the entire uvula may be amputated manually or removed using a sickle knife. In such settings, there usually may be a significant risk of major complications, including hemorrhage and septicemia.[5]

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Conflicts of interest

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Back GW, Nadig S, Uppal S, Coatesworth AP. Why do we have a uvula?: Literature review and a new theory. Clin Otolaryngol Allied Sci 2004;29:689-93.
Miles SH, Ololo H. Traditional surgeons in sub-Saharan Africa: Images from south Sudan. Int J STD AIDS 2003;14:505-8.
Ijaduola GT. Uvulectomy in Nigeria. J Laryngol Otol 1981;95:1127-33.
Abdullah MA. Traditional practices and other socio-cultural factors affecting the health of children in Saudi Arabia. Ann Trop Paediatr 1993;13:227-32.
Nalin DR. Death of child submitted to uvulectomy for diarrhoea. Lancet 1985;1:643.

Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/1755-6783.181655


[Figure 1]

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