Friday, September 19, 2014

Table of Contents

Alternative Names

Impaction of the bowels


Treatment

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 bowel retraining program. Your doctor and a specially trained nurse or therapist will:

  • 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

Support Groups


Expectations (prognosis)

With treatment, the outcome is good.


Complications
  • 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 fecal incontinence after a long period of constipation. Also notify your health care provider if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:

  • 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.

A.D.A.M., Inc. is accredited by URAC, also known as the American Accreditation HealthCare Commission (www.urac.org)