Ayurveda

What are Bezoars?

Bezoars

are compacted masses of indigested food materials in the gastrointestinal tract. They could also be inorganic foreign bodies swallowed by accident. They occur mostly in the stomach but it is not uncommon to find them in the intestine. They can appear in other parts of the gastrointestinal tract also.

Sometimes they pass through the body without any obstruction. But there are instances when they cause an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract. Perforation or tearing in the membranous wall of the organ can also take place. The esophagus is the most common area of obstruction. 75% of such obstructions occur here.

Bezoars

can be organic or inorganic in nature. The following are the different types depending on their constituent material.

    Food boll

    : They are composed of loose food particles like vegetable hair, seeds, fruit pith, bubble gum, pits and shells of fruits, soil etc.

    Lactobezoar

    : It is made of undigested milk mostly seen in formula fed premature infants.

    Pharmacobezoars

    : It contains undigested tablets or semi liquid masses of medicines. Delayed response medications or sustained release drugs are thought to be behind this type.

    Phytobezoar

    : This type is made of undigested plant material like cellulose and mostly affects patients with poor digestion and reduced gastric movement.

    Diospyrobezoar

    : This type is formed when unripe persimmon fruit is consumed.

    Trichobezoar

    : This type is formed from ingested hair. It is an extreme form of a hairball seen in people who consume hair and has to be removed surgically.

Symptoms of Bezoars

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Bloated and distended abdomen
  • Gastric ulcers
  • Intestinal bleeding
  • Gastrointestinal obstruction causing necrosis or destruction of tissues in the region

Who are at risk of developing them?

  • People who had gastric surgery or had gastroparesis are at risk. This is because of the reduced ability of the stomach to empty its contents.
  • People with reduced stomach size.
  • People who have low stomach acid levels.
  • People with diabetes or terminal kidney disease.
  • People on artificial life support system.

Treatment

Treatment entails removing the mass causing obstruction either with an endoscope or with a traditional open surgery.

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