Impaction of the bowels
Treating a fecal impaction involves removing the impacted stool. After that, measures are taken to prevent future fecal impactions.
Often a warm mineral oil enema is used to soften and lubricate the stool. However, enemas alone are usually not enough to remove a large, hardened impaction.
The mass may have to be broken up by hand. This is called manual removal:
- 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 come out.
- This process must be done in small steps to avoid causing injury to the rectum.
- Suppositories inserted into the rectum may be given between attempts to help clear the stool.
Surgery is rarely needed to treat a fecal impaction. An overly widened colon (megacolon) or complete blockage of the bowel may require emergency removal of the impaction.
Almost anyone who has had a fecal impaction will need a
- Take a detailed history of your diet, bowel patterns, laxative use, medications, and medical problems
- Examine you carefully
- Recommend changes in your diet, how to use laxatives and stool softeners, special exercises, lifestyle changes, and other special techniques to retrain your bowel
- Follow you closely to make sure the program works for you
With treatment, the outcome is good.
- Tear (ulceration) of the rectal tissue
- Tissue death (
necrosis) or rectal tissue injury
Calling your health care provider
Tell your health care provider if you are experiencing chronic diarrhea or
- Abdominal pain and
bloating Blood in the stool
- Sudden constipation with
abdominal cramps, and an inability to pass gas or stool. In this case, do not take any laxatives. Call your health care provider immediately.
- Very thin, pencil-like stools
Review Date: 01/31/2011
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; George F Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program San Diego, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.