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Philippine Daily Inquirer

GMA Network

   Saturday September 08, 2001, Philippines

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Case of the deadly santol seeds
Posted: 7:37 PM (Manila Time) | September 07, 2001
Inquirer News Service

Complications

The resulting perforation will result in a spillage of feces into the abdominal cavity causing peritonitis, which is a serious infection of the lining of the abdomen and the entire abdominal cavity. If surgery is not done promptly, the infection can get into the bloodstream known as septicemia, which may lead to death.

Intestinal obstruction and perforation caused by swallowed santol seeds require resection-anastomosis surgery which consists of cutting out and discarding the damaged parts of the intestines and reconnecting the cut ends together. Occasionally, the surgeon may do a colostomy, which is an opening in the abdominal wall that serves as the temporary anus of the patient where the feces will pass.

Based on the OMMC experience, complications including deaths due to swallowed santol seeds are more frequent in the older age group. The age range of patients in the OMMC re-port was 45 to 65 years. "This is most likely due to the higher incidence of abnormalities in the intestines in the older age group compared to the younger population," explains Dr. Joson.

The OMMC surgical department has started disseminating information about the dangers of swallowing santol seeds. Although the complications are not as common in the young as in the middle age or older age groups, the outpatient department of the hospital makes an effort to forewarn both the young and the old. "As we know, habits are hard to break when itís deeply instilled in the individual at a young age; one grows old with the habit," says Dr. Joson.

According to Dr. Joson, the debilitation and deaths associated with swallowing santol seeds have reached such a magnitude to consider it a public health problem. The OMMC surgical department cautions that this problem carries a risk of premature death, even in an otherwise healthy individual. "We hope to significantly reduce the occurrence of these premature deaths by educating the public," Dr. Joson stresses.

Mameng was fortunate to survive her brush with death caused by swallowing santol seeds. She was discharged from the hospital one week following her emergency surgery. She still gets an occasional craving for santol, but recalling the sad episode she just had instantly suppresses it. The craving can probably wait until the next santol season, Mameng tells herself. Will she swallow the seeds again? She replies with an emphatic "Never."

(Medical Files is based on the case histories of actual patients. Some information have been changed to hide the patientís identity. Apart from the medical information, it stresses the socio-psychological impact of the disease on the patient. Dr. Castillo is a past president of the Philippine Heart Association/Philippine College of Cardiology. For comments or inquiries, e-mail raffymd@I-manila.com.ph.)



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Potentially fatal problem   
Complications  

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