Foreign Body, Rectum
Rectal Foreign Body Overview
The rectum is that part of the bowel leading to the anus, the opening stool passes through to move outside the body. Any object inserted or present in the rectum or anus should be removed to prevent serious complications.
Rectal Foreign Body Causes
The majority of objects found in the rectum have been introduced through the anus. But sometimes a foreign body may be swallowed, pass through the digestive tract, and eventually get stuck in the rectum.
Common examples found in the rectum include:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Objects designed to be placed in the anus (such as vibrators or dildos)
Foreign bodies may be found in the rectum:
- In children
- In psychiatric patients
- In victims of assault
- As a result of injury caused by medical practitioners (examples would be broken rectal thermometers or broken enema catheter tips)
- As a result of an object being used for sexual gratification
Rectal Foreign Body Symptoms
The majority of people with an object in their rectum may have no signs or symptoms. This can make the diagnosis very difficult, especially with children and with psychiatric patients.
In some cases, especially if there has been a delay in seeking medical help, a complication may have developed that causes symptoms. The symptoms most likely to be found include:
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Rectal bleeding
If an object has caused acomplication such as peritonitis -- inflammation of the abdominal wall -- you will have a very tender abdomen.
When to Seek Medical Care
Seek emergency medical help if you think you have a foreign object in your rectum and you have abdominal pain, bleeding, or fever.
Otherwise, if you know you have an object in your rectum, or think you do, seek medical help to remove it as soon as is possible.
It is likely that most doctors will not have the equipment in their offices that may be required to safely remove the object. So a hospital's emergency department may be the best place to go.
Exams and Tests
Most doctors will perform a careful history. They will do this in a non-judgmental way, but out of necessity will have to ask some very personal questions.
Doctors will particularly want to know:
- Exactly what the object is (or could be in the case of children or psychiatric patients who cannot give a history)
- How long it has been there
- What attempts have been made already to try to remove it
The doctor will also want to know about abdominal pain, fever or temperature, and whether there has been any evidence of rectal bleeding.
An examination will follow the history. This will include a careful examination of the abdomen and a rectal examination.
- The doctor will position you on your side and examine the anal region for evidence of tears, cuts, or bruising.
- A digital examination will then be performed. The doctor will use a gloved finger for this.
- Sometimes the doctor will use an object called a proctoscope, which is passed into the anus. This instrument is like a short, hollow tube that allows the doctor to look inside and actually see the object. Obviously, if the object is very fragile—a light bulb, for example—the proctoscope needs to be performed with a great deal of care, if it is done at all.
After the examination, the doctor may ask for an X-ray of the abdomen to see exactly where the object is. The doctor will also be looking to see that there is no "free air" in the abdomen, which would indicate that the bowel has been perforated. If you have abdominal pain, or bleeding, or fever, then an IV line would be started and you would have some blood tests done.