Bezoars

What is it?
A bezoar is a mass of material that you ate that is not digested and remains in the stomach. It gets matted together.  It can be made up of vegetable material, hair or medicines. These masses are uncommon.

Who gets it?
Some people with a history of a stomach surgery may be at risk for bezoars.  After surgery, there may be a change in how the stomach grinds food and produces the substances, (specifically acid, mucus and chemicals) to break down protein. Some foods or medications are more likely to cause this formation. Ingestion of other inappropriate items may contribute to the formation of bezoars, such as: hair, tissue paper, Styrofoam cups and vinyl gloves.

What are the symptoms?

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Getting full fast
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bleeding

How is it diagnosed?
A bezoar may be found by chance on an abdominal x-ray, ultrasound or CT scan.The best way to visualize this is with an upper endoscopy where it can be seen directly and sampled to determine what it is made of.

How is it treated?
Treatment is based on what the bezoar is made of. Options include:

  • Dissolving this mass with chemicals.
  • Endoscopy. The bezoar can be broken up with water, or endoscope and remove by suction.
  • Surgery. This maybe considered if the formation will not dissolve or cannot be broken up, or if there are complications such as, obstruction or bleeding.

What can I do?
To prevent the formation of a bezoar:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Change your diet. Avoid stringy vegetables and persimmons - a fruit that is often associated
  • Chew food completely
  • Get treatment for any underlying motility problems of the stomach that may promote bezoar formation.


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