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Fecal impaction removal is the digital (using the finger) means of breaking up and removing a fecal impaction, or mass of hardened, clay-like stool lodged in the rectum.
Fecal impaction is the result of extreme constipation. As the patient is unable to expel the stool, it further accumulates into a larger, harder mass that is impossible to pass by normal defecation. This accumulated stool can extend up into the sigmoid colon, the loop of large bowel above the rectum. Impaction is most common in inactive elderly people, but there are other causes beside inactivity. Among the other causes are:
In addition to the discomfort this condition creates, untreated fecal impaction can also become a serious health problem, producing a chronically over-dilated bowel, or megacolon, that can require surgical correction. It is possible for rectal tissue to become damaged, ulcerated, or even necrotic (lose its blood supply due to the pressure of the stool). The most serious potential complication is that the lower bowel can become completely obstructed. Such intestinal obstruction is potentially fatal.
The possibility that the patient has a fecal impaction should be considered if he or she shows any or all of the following symptoms:
Author Info: Joan M. Schonbeck, The Gale Group Inc., Gale, Detroit, Gale Encyclopedia of Nursing and Allied Health, 2002
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