Fecal impaction removal is the digital (using the finger) means of breaking up and removing a fecal impaction, or mass of hardened, clay-like stool lodged in the rectum.
Fecal impaction is the result of extreme constipation. As the patient is unable to expel the stool, it further accumulates into a larger, harder mass that is impossible to pass by normal defecation. This accumulated stool can extend up into the sigmoid colon, the loop of large bowel above the rectum. Impaction is most common in inactive elderly people, but there are other causes beside inactivity. Among the other causes are:
poor bowel habits; not having a regular schedule for evacuating the bowel
inadequate fluid intake
a diet that is lacking in such fibers as bran, fruit, and vegetables
such rectal disorders as rectocele
In addition to the discomfort this condition creates, untreated fecal impaction can also become a serious health problem, producing a chronically over-dilated bowel, or megacolon, that can require surgical correction. It is possible for rectal tissue to become damaged, ulcerated, or even necrotic (lose its blood supply due to the pressure of the stool). The most serious potential complication is that the lower bowel can become completely obstructed. Such intestinal obstruction is potentially fatal.
The possibility that the patient has a fecal impaction should be considered if he or she shows any or all of the following symptoms:
complaints of inability to have a bowel movement despite frequently feeling the urge to defecate
upon defecation, the stool appears to be either diarrheic or thin and pencil-like
bloating and a swollen or hard abdomen
anorexia, or lack of appetite; nausea; and vomiting
complaints of general malaise, or not feeling well