Boy gets rare ‘handlebar hernia’ from motorbike accident

A boy crossing a street in Cameroon got a rare and painful abdominal injury when a motorbike driver lost control and ran into him, according to a new report.

During the accident, the 275-lb. (125 kilograms) motorbike fell on the 8-year-old boy, and its handlebars smashed into his abdomen, giving him an injury that doctors call a “handlebar hernia,” his doctors said.

Hernias develop when an organ pokes through the cavity that holds it, said Dr. Valirie Ndip Agbor, a physician who treated the boy at the Ibal sub-Divisional Hospital in Oku, a rural community in northwestern Cameroon, in central Africa, and reported his case. Hernias most commonly occur in the abdomen, for instance when the intestines break through a weakened area in the abdominal wall. 

In the boy’s case, the motorbike’s handlebars caused a rupture in his abdominal muscles and the underlying tissue called the fascia, making a hole internally, which his intestines pushed through, although the skin itself did not break.

Handlebar hernias are uncommon — the doctors found just 29 published reports of them in children over the past 30 years — but if doctors fail to diagnose and treat them properly, these hernias can develop complications or even be fatal, Ndip Agbor said. 

“This boy presented with abdominal swelling after the trauma, which could have been a lot of things,” Ndip Agbor told Live Science in an email. “Therefore, we advise physicians, parents and guardians to be aware of [this] condition when faced with a similar condition.”

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