Bezoar Definition

A hardened mass of indigestible matter that forms in the stomach, such as hair (trichobezoar), insoluble plant fiber (phytobezoar), or a combination of hair and plant fiber (trichophytobezoar). Bezoars can develop in children who chew their hair or eat substances such as sand or grass and in adults who have slowed gastrointestinal motility, such as might occur with gastroparesis or achalasia. A bezoar can remain undetected in the stomach for months, until it becomes large enough to block the passage of food into the small intestine.

Symptoms of Bezoar

Common symptoms include pain, nausea, vomiting, and occasionally a palpable lump. Barium swallow or endoscopy can confirm the diagnosis. Surgery (endoscopic or open) to remove the bezoar is often the only treatment, as by the time a bezoar causes symptoms it is too large to pass through the gastrointestinal tract. Bezoars may recur when the behavior responsible for their development, such as hair chewing, persists.

See also ILEUS.

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