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Alamri Y. Uvular amputation through traditional manual uvulectomy. Ann Trop Med Public Health 2016;9:213
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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
The uvula has several functions, including the modulation of speech sounds and moistening the oropharynx. 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 , and the Middle East. Among traditional practitioners there, it is believed that the uvula is the organ underlying throat infections, may also play a role in causing diarrhoea, 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. 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.
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