Gastrointestinal Complications (PDQ®): Supportive care - Health Professional Information [NCI] - Impaction
Treatment of Impaction
The primary treatment of impaction is to hydrate and soften the stool so that it can be removed or passed. Enemas (oil retention, tap water, or hypertonic phosphate) lubricate the bowel and soften the stool. Caution must be exercised; fecal impaction can irritate the bowel wall, and enemas in excess may perforate the bowel. The patient may need to be digitally disimpacted if the stool is within reach. This is best done after administering an enema to lubricate the bowel.
Nonstimulating bowel softeners such as docusate can be used to help soften stool higher in the colon. Mineral or olive oil can be given to loosen the stool. Caution should be used when giving docusate sodium with mineral oil because there could be an increased systemic absorption of the mineral oil leading to systemic lipid granulomas. Glycerin suppositories can also be used. Any laxatives that might stimulate the bowel or cause cramping should be avoided so that the bowel is not damaged further.
Current Clinical Trials
Check NCI's list of cancer clinical trials for U.S. supportive and palliative care trials about constipation, impaction, and bowel obstruction that are now accepting participants. The list of trials can be further narrowed by location, drug, intervention, and other criteria.
General information about clinical trials is also available from the NCI Web site.
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