Background: Specialization in various areas of medicine is established in most tertiary hospitals in Nigeria. There is thus an increasing awareness by the populace on need for specialist medical care. However, neurologists are few and unevenly spread in the country. This raises a serious concern considering the enormous burden that neurological diseases may constitute in our environment.
Objective: To examine the scope of the burden of neurological disease as encountered in a typical neurological/medical clinic in a tertiary centre in the South East zone of the country.
Methods: A retrospective study was carried out of all medical cases seen at the Neurology Clinic of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital Enugu over a 20 - month period from January 2007 to August 2008. Patients were at least 15 years of age. The final diagnosis as made in each patient’s folder by the Consultant Neurologist or Neurology Senior Registrar was recorded. The data obtained was subjected to descriptive analysis.
Results: Out of a total of 3175, neurological disorders constituted 48.7% of all cases seen in the study period. Nonneurological conditions accounted for as much as 47.1% of the total. In 4.2 % of cases, there was no definite diagnosis recorded. Epilepsy was the commonest neurological diagnosis in the clinic, followed by stroke.
Conclusion: It is evident that though the neurologist, in the typical Nigerian out-patient medical clinic, may attend mostly to patients with clinical conditions referable to his area of specialisation, a good knowledge of General Medicine is still very relevant for utmost medical health service benefit even in a tertiary hospital setting.