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    Bezoar

    Trichobezoar; Hairball

    A bezoar is a ball of swallowed foreign material (usually hair or fiber) that collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines.

    Causes

    Chewing on or eating hair or fuzzy materials (or indigestible materials such as plastic bags) can lead to the formation of a bezoar. The rate is very low and the risk is greater among mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed children. Generally bezoars are mostly seen in females aged 10 to 19.

    Symptoms

    • Indigestion
    • Stomach upset or distress
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Diarrhea
    • Pain
    • Gastric ulcers

    Exams and Tests

    The child may have a lump in the abdomen that can be felt by the health care provider. A barium swallow x-ray will show the mass in the stomach. Sometimes a scope is used (endoscopy) to directly view the bezoar.

    Treatment

    The bezoar may need to be surgically removed (especially trichobezoars, which tend to be large). Sometimes small bezoars can be removed through a scope placed through the mouth and into the stomach (similar to an EGD procedure). Then, follow the prevention measures described.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Full recovery is expected.

    Possible Complications

    Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Call your health care provider if you suspect your child has a bezoar.

    Prevention

    If your child has had a hair bezoar in the past, trim the child's hair short so he or she cannot put the ends in the mouth. Keep indigestible materials away from a childwho has a tendency to put items in the mouth.

    Be sure to remove the child's access to fuzzy or fiber-filled materials.

    References

    Kelsen J, Liacouras CA. Foreign bodies and bezoars. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 326.

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          Review Date: 8/1/2012

          Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

          The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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          St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
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