Definition: A fecaloma is an accumulation of stool in the form of stones in the colon or rectum of various sizes, which gives the appearance of a tumor in the belly.
The colon is found in the enormous intestine, with a tube-like structure as part of the digestive tract.
The rectum is the last part of the large intestine. Fecalomas appear when there is (long-term) chronic obstruction due to movement through the intestines (for example, chronic constipation).
Another example of chronic obstruction in the bowel is megacolon, which involves the abnormal widening of the colon, often accompanied by cessation of bowel movements.
What can cause a Fecaloma
Some fecalomas can be very large and need to be surgically removed, known as disimpaction. A condition that can cause this is Chagas disease, which is the kind of disease of a parasite that lives in another organism to obtain food.
Another cause of Fecaloma is Hirschsprung’s disease, which is caused by a disorder of the abdomen when all or part of the large intestine or gastrointestinal tract does not have nerves, which prevents it from functioning correctly.
Other circumstances damage the autonomic nervous system (connections to the spinal cord) that are important for the involuntary bodily functions necessary to maintain life, such as breathing and heart rate.
- Leakage of liquid stools
- Abdominal discomfort
- Abdominal distension.
- Abdominal pain.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Lack of appetite.
Severe symptoms include rapid heart rate, dehydration, hyperventilation or rapid breathing, fever, confusion, easily agitated, and incontinence.
Complications of Fecaloma include:
- Problems in the wall of the colon.
- Anal bleeding
It is essential to pay attention to your bowel and visit a doctor if you suspect a problem.
Your doctor will press down on your abdomen to detect masses or hardened areas, which can help you locate the affected parts of your digestive system.
After this, your doctor will administer a digital rectal exam to check fecal impaction. In this test, your doctor puts on a glove, lubricates one of your fingers, and inserts it into your rectum. This procedure usually does not cause pain, but you may feel discomfort.
If your doctor suspects impaction after performing the exams, you may request an abdomen x-ray.
Other possible procedures are an abdominal ultrasound or a visualization of the colon using a tiny microscope called a sigmoidoscope.
A barium enema can also highlight problem areas. A barium enema involves inserting a contrast medium into the rectum and then taking an x-ray of the colon and rectum.
Treatment for Fecaloma
Although this does not happen often, fecalomas can form around hairballs or other materials that have been detached from the intestine or that attract and retain water and cause a state of dryness.
Some can be removed by a finger probe or with a catheter that follows the fluid flow (for example, water, lubricants, or solvent) as long as a doctor or specialist does it.
A catheter is a hollow and flexible tube inserted into the blood vessels, with the primary objective of generating fluids that allow it to pass from or to these areas.
A solvent is an ordinarily liquid substance (such as water) capable of dissolving or dispersing one or more substances.
Trying to eliminate fecalomas can have severe and sometimes deadly consequences, such as a tear or rupture of the intestinal wall by the catheter.
If the infection becomes severe, this can lead to sepsis, a possibly fatal medical condition characterized by body inflammation.
A small fecaloma can sometimes cause acute diverticulitis and appendicitis. Diverticulitis is the formation of pouches in the wall of the intestine. Appendicitis is an inflammation of the appendix.
Fecaloma comes from the Latin word “feces,” which means “excrement,” and the Greek word “soma,” which means “tumor.” Put the words together you get “stool tumor.”
One way to prevent Fecaloma is to avoid constipation. Some diseases and certain medications make it impossible to prevent constipation, but making small changes in lifestyle can help.
Try these tips:
- Drink plenty of water every day to avoid dehydration.
- Drink other liquids such as natural laxatives, such as prune juice, coffee, and tea.
- Eat foods rich in fiber, such as whole wheat, peas, oats, and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly to help keep your digestive system functioning well.