Omphalocele, the congenital anomaly of the anterior abdominal wall in the newborn, is a serious condition with a grave prognosis. Sac rupture, occurring in 25% of cases in Ibadan is associated with a high mortality. Although its embryogenesis is now better understood, its underlying aetiology remains obscure. Prematurity and low birth weight have no causal relationship to the condition, but a preponderance among the lower socio-economic groups in Ibadan is observed. Thirty-three cases seen over a 5-year period at the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria, constitute an unusually high incidence, suggesting that the condition may be aetiologically related to umbilical hernia which is known to be commoner in African than in Caucasian infants. Overall treatment results remain unsatisfactory for all types and mortality is still high. In those centres, particularly in the developing countries with scarce resources, conservative management should be the primary treatment modality for all intact sacs but staged procedures utilizing prosthetic materials should be reserved for the large ruptured sac.
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