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Correspondence: Dr Chong Vui Heng, firstname.lastname@example.org
Introduction Fasting during the month of Ramadan is one of the five holy pillars in the Islamic faith and is an obligation for all its followers. Prolonged fasting may precipitate or exacerbate gastrointestinal (GI) complaints. This study assessed the impact of Ramadan on referrals for upper GI endoscopy in a tertiary referral centre.
Methods 1,661 patients referred to the centre a month before, during and a month after the month of Ramadan over a four-year period (2004–07) were retrospectively studied. Significant endoscopic findings were taken as any bleeding lesions, severe or complicated oesophagitis, peptic ulcer disease, portal hypertension related pathologies and malignancies.
Results Overall, there was significantly less workload generated during the fasting month (397 patients, 5.7 +/- 2.7 cases per list) compared to before (603 patients, 6.9 +/- 3.0 cases per list, p-value is equal to 0.036) and after (661 patients, 7.8 +/- 3.4 cases per list, p-value is less than 0.001) the fasting month. There was no significant difference between the period before and after the fasting month (p-value equal to 0.124). There were no significant differences in the mean age and gender of the patients. During the fasting month, there were differences in the ethnicity (fewer Malays and more Chinese, p-value is equal to 0.002) and referral sources (more wards and fewer clinics, p-value is less than 0.001). There were no differences in the referral indications, oesophageal and gastric findings, but there was a significant difference in the duodenal findings (p-value is equal to 0.001), especially ulcer disease, during the fasting month.
Conclusion This study showed that significantly less workload was generated during the fasting month of Ramadan compared to the non-fasting months. There were also some differences in the referral sources, ethnicity and the endoscopic findings.
Keywords: endoscopy referrals, fasting, gastrointestinal bleeding, Ramadan
Singapore Med J 2009; 50(6): 619-623