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Skeletal fluorosis in Vavuniya District: an observational study

Authors:

P B Hewavithana,

University of Peradeniya, LK
About P B
Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine
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W M Jayawardhane,

Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd, LK
About W M
Consultant Civil Engineer
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R Gamage,

Link Natural Products (Pvt) Ltd, LK
About R
Senior Research and Development Officer
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C Goonaratna

Ceylon Medical College Council, Colombo, LK
About C
Registrar
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Abstract

Background

The WHO recommended safe upper limit for fluoride in drinking water is 1.5 mg/l. Groundwater sources in many parts of Sri Lanka often exceed this limit. The high fluoride content of groundwater and high environmental temperatures in Vavuniya District predispose to pre-skeletal fluorosis and skeletal fluorosis in adults.

Objectives

To identify residents of Vavuniya District with clinical features of pre-skeletal and skeletal fluorosis; to describe their clinical, biochemical and radiographic features; to determine the fluoride content of blood and urine in individuals with established diagnoses, and of their drinking water.

Methods

In 98 volunteers we detected 60 with clinical features of pre-skeletal and skeletal fluorosis. Clinical examination, biochemical and radiographic investigations were performed. Forty four with confounding factors were excluded. The balance 16 had radiographic investigation for fluoride bone disease, and assessment of clinical features for pre-skeletal fluorosis. The radiographic criteria of skeletal fluorosis were trabecular haziness, osteosclerosis, osteophytes, cortical thickening and ligamentous or muscle attachment ossification. All 16 had “spot” samples of 15 ml of venous blood taken for biochemical tests and fluoride estimation; and 30 ml of urine, and water from 16 dug wells for fluoride.

Results

The 16 selected (11 males) had BMI between 20.6 and 31.9 kg/m2, and were between 22 and 84 years (x̅ = 59.9 + 20.4). They used water from domestic dug wells for drinking.  All had adequate renal function.  All serum and urine samples had raised fluoride levels way above the reference ranges for serum (0.02 – 0.18 mg/l) and urine (0.6 – 2.0 mg/l). The 16 water samples showed a mean fluoride content of 2.90 +0.93 mg/l.

Interpretation

In a cohort of 60 individuals in Vavuniya with symptoms suggestive of  skeletal fluoride toxicity, 6 had skeletal fluorosis, 10 had pre-skeletal fluorosis, and groundwater sources had fluoride levels much higher than WHO recommended upper limit for drinking water. Residents in Vavuniya are predisposed to pre-skeletal and skeletal fluorosis. All 16 had been misdiagnosed as various types of arthritis.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v63i3.8723
How to Cite: Hewavithana, P.B., Jayawardhane, W.M., Gamage, R. and Goonaratna, C., 2018. Skeletal fluorosis in Vavuniya District: an observational study. Ceylon Medical Journal, 63(3), pp.120–123. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/cmj.v63i3.8723
Published on 30 Sep 2018.
Peer Reviewed

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