Symptoms and Signs of Foreign Body in Rectum

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 8/30/2021

Doctor's Notes on Foreign Body in Rectum

The rectum is the end segment of the large intestine (the bowel) just inside the anus. Any type of object inserted into the anus may become stuck in the rectum. In some cases, a foreign body is swallowed and passes through the digestive tract, eventually getting stuck in the rectum. Foreign bodies can be anything from bottles, candles, fruits and vegetables, medical devices (a broken rectal thermometer or broken enema catheter tip), or sex toys such as vibrators or dildos. 

Most people with an object in their rectum may have no signs or symptoms, which can make a diagnosis difficult, especially in children and in psychiatric patients. When treatment is delayed, complications may arise. Symptoms of complications of a foreign body in the rectum include

What Is the Treatment for Foreign Body in Rectum?

Foreign bodies in the rectum that do not come out on their own must be removed by a doctor. Depending on the type of object, the location (depth) within the rectum or colon, or the possibility of complications due to the object, some objects can be removed safely in the emergency department. Some objects may be too far inside the rectum or there may be evidence of damage to the intestine wall. In these cases, the patient may need to be sedated and a surgical procedure may be necessary.

Procedures used to remove rectal foreign objects include:

  • Small objects deemed harmless may be left to pass in the stool naturally or with the help of laxatives
  • Lubricating the rectum and manually grasping the object
  • Using an anoscope (tool for opening the rectum to look inside) to further open the rectum so the object may be grasped with surgical tools
  • Passing a balloon catheter (such as a Foley urinary catheter) past the object and then gliding the object out
  • Using a flexible sigmoidoscope or colonoscope to retrieve the object and assess for damage to the colon
  • Bowel surgery under general anesthesia, especially if there is a high suspicion of damage or perforation of the bowel due to the object

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REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.