A pilot study of the value of a stool color card as a diagnostic tool for extrahepatic biliary atresia at a single tertiary referral center in a low/middle income country.

Citation:
El-Shabrawi, M. H., S. R. Baroudy, F. S. Hassanin, and A. E. Farag, "A pilot study of the value of a stool color card as a diagnostic tool for extrahepatic biliary atresia at a single tertiary referral center in a low/middle income country.", Arab journal of gastroenterology : the official publication of the Pan-Arab Association of Gastroenterology, vol. 22, issue 1, pp. 61-65, 2021.

Abstract:

BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS: Biliary atresia (BA) is a major cause of hepatic failure and consequent liver transplantation in pediatrics. If BA is not diagnosed early and the proper surgical intervention is not performed before the age of 3 months, the survival of the affected infant is significantly reduced. In 1994, a stool color card (SCC) for early detection of BA was developed and used in Japan, a country where the parents' socioeconomic and education levels are high. We aimed to assess the value of using the SCC as a screening tool for early diagnosis of BA at a tertiary referral center in Egypt (a low/middle-income country).

PATIENTS AND METHODS: This prospective study enrolled 108 infants (56 females) aged 1 day to 4 months who presented with cholestasis to the Hepatology Unit of Cairo University Children's Hospital from January 2018 to August 2019. In most of our patients, the mothers were the main caregivers and the parents' socioeconomic and education levels were generally modest or low. We utilized the SCC courtesy of the Perinatal Services BC (Vancouver, Canada) with an Arabic translation. This SCC contains nine colored stool photos: the first six are ranked as abnormal colors and the last three are ranked as normal.

RESULTS: We found that almost all referring physicians were unfamiliar with or unaware of the SCC concept. Twenty-six of our babies' mothers were illiterate and 36 had not completed their primary school education. In spite of this low education level, 43 mothers of babies who were finally confirmed to have BA correctly matched a stool color of BA on the SCC with their babies' stools, and 56 mothers of babies who were finally confirmed not to have BA correctly matched a stool color not of BA with their babies' stools. Only nine mothers made a wrong match. Therefore, the overall "lay" mothers' sensitivity and specificity in diagnosis of BA using the SCC were 93.48% (95% confidence interval [CI] 82.1%-98.63%) and 90.32% (95% CI 80.12%-96.37%), respectively.

CONCLUSION: To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study reporting the use of the SCC (with an Arabic translation) in a low/middle-income country. Despite the referring physicians' unfamiliarity with the SCC and the mothers' relatively low education level at our center; SCC proved to be a simple, efficient, highly sensitive, specific, and applicable method for early diagnosis of BA. Therefore, SCC screening might increase motherś (as well as physicianś) awareness of BA, and we recommend that it be more publicized and used as a mass neonatal screening tool in low/middle-income countries such as Egypt.

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