Fecal Impaction in Adults: Report of 30 Cases of Seed Bezoars in the Rectum

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Purpose:Seed bezoars in the rectum have been considered an uncommon cause of fecal impaction in adults. Although there have been several reports on sunflower seed bezoars, seed bezoars from the fruit of the prickly pear cactus and watermelon have received little notice. This study was designed to determine the frequency of fecal impaction by seed bezoars in the rectum and their clinical characteristics in adults.Methods:A retrospective review of the medical records of patients hospitalized with the diagnosis of fecal impaction during a ten-year period.Results:During the study period (January 1996 to December 2005), 55 patients were hospitalized at the Western Galilee Hospital, in northern Israel, with the diagnosis of fecal impaction. Phytobezoars were found in 30 patients (55 percent). The seed bezoars were composed of prickly pear seeds in 12 patients, watermelon seeds in 10 patients, sunflower seeds in 4 patients, popcorn kernels in 1 patient, and pomegranate seeds in 1 patient. The Jew:Arab ratio for seed bezoars was 7:23. Seventy-three patients had seedless fecal masses with a Jew:Arab ratio of 58:15. All 30 patients with bezoar underwent digital disimpaction under general anesthesia. Only 21 of 73 patients with seedless fecal masses were treated under general anesthesia.Conclusions:Seed bezoars found in the rectum were the most common cause of fecal impaction requiring hospitalization, probably to the result of the eating habits in the Middle East. The consumption of seeds with shell fragments or fruits containing many seeds (such as the prickly pear) should be accompanied by the awareness that large quantities may cause fecal impaction.

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