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A fecal impaction is a solid, immobile bulk of stool that can develop in the rectum as a result of chronic constipation.
Symptoms include chronic constipation. There can be fecal incontinence and paradoxical diarrhea as liquid stool passes around the obstruction. Complications may include necrosis and ulcers of the rectal tissue.
Non-invasive treatments are similar to those for constipation and include increased intake of fluids and dietary fiber, and physical exercise. However, once fecal impaction occurs, these methods are usually not successful.
The mainstay of treatment are enemas to soften the impaction and disimpaction, i.e. digital manipulation by a health practitioner. Use of laxatives may be dangerous because of the possibility of tearing caused by violent expulsion of a large mass (known as stercoral perforation). Surgery may be necessary if the bowel becomes totally obstructed.
Differentiating Fecal impaction from Other Diseases
Epidemiology and Demographics
Natural History, Complications, and Prognosis
History and Symptoms
Other Diagnostic Studies
- Wrenn K (1989). "Fecal impaction". N Engl J Med. 321 (10): 658–62. PMID 2671728.