Author(s): Elinor A. Graham, MD

Date Authored: September 1, 1996

Look more closely the next time that you examine the throat of a patient born in Africa. Is the uvula present and does it look normal? Uvulectomy is a traditional surgery performed on infants and children throughout Africa and in some middle Eastern countries. It is done as a traditional treatment to prevent throat infections and normally is done early in infancy or the first or second year of life. It may be done by traditional healers or by laypersons who are often barbers by profession. The procedure results in partial or complete removal of the uvula. A notch or cleft in the soft palate can be found in more extreme forms with changes in the symmetry of the arches of the palate. Complications following the surgery are common and include tetany, hemorrhage, and infection.


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eritrean girl
Photo by theblacknemesis (cc license).