Please be patient! It may take up to ONE minute to load all the Engines.
Problems? Please contact our support.
Alternative namesImpaction of the bowels
A fecal impaction is a large mass of dry, hard stool that can develop in the rectum due to chronic constipation. This mass may be so hard that it cannot be excreted. Watery stool from higher in the bowel may move around the mass and leak out, causing soiling .
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Certain people are at greater risk for developing a chronic constipation , which can lead to fecal impaction. Patients at risk include those who:
SymptomsSudden, watery diarrhea in someone who has chronic constipation is usually an indication of a fecal impaction. Other symptoms include frequent straining with passage of liquid or small, semi-formed stools or abdominal cramping and discomfort.
Signs and tests
The health care provider will examine your abdomen and rectum. The rectal exam will reveal a hard mass of dry stool within the rectum.
If there has been a recent change in your bowel habits, your doctor may recommend colonoscopy to evaluate for colon or rectal cancer.
Treatment of a fecal impaction involves removal of the impacted stool, as well as measures to prevent constipation and further development of a fecal impaction.
Glycerin or bisacodyl suppositories or other gentle laxatives may be used in conjunction with a bowel retraining program to establish a pattern of regular bowel movements. Nutritional adjustments may be helpful in those with a limited diet or immobility.
The mass may have to be manually broken up. A health care provider will need to insert one or two fingers into the rectum and slowly break up the mass into smaller pieces so that it can be expelled. Manual removal of a fecal impaction is usually performed in small steps to reduce the risk of injuring the rectal tissues. A series of suppositories may be given between manual removal attempts, to help clear the bowel.
Expectations (prognosis)With treatment, the outcome is good.
Calling your health care provider
Notify your health care provider if you are experiencing chronic diarrhea or fecal incontinence following a long period of constipation. Also notify your health care provider if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Prevention of fecal impaction centers on preventing constipation . Fiber should be added to the diet to promote normal stool consistency. Additionally, an adequate intake of fluids and exercise may enhance normal stool consistency.
Always respond promptly to the urge to defecate.
Update Date: 1/13/2003Andrew J. Muir, M.D., M.H.S., Division of Gastroenterology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.
Last updated: Tue, 06 Jan 2009 00:20:03 GMT