Foreign Objects in the Rectum

Objects accidentally swallowed constitute the major part of the foreign objects in the rectum. They include swallowed chicken and fish bones, tooth picks, needles, buttons and marbles. They may pass through the digestive tract along with other food substances but on reaching the rectum, they may get stuck at the anorectal junction. Occasionally, foreign objects introduced through the anus such as thermometers, surgical sponges and other instruments and objects employed for sexual stimulation may reach the rectum and get lodged there.

Following the ingestion of an object, if a sudden, sharp pain is felt in the pelvic region, usually just before or during a bowel movement, it indicates that the object has reached the anorectal junction and is piercing the wall of the rectum or anus. Depending on the size and structure of the foreign body and the amount of damage it has caused to the walls, bleeding or other symptoms due to obstruction of bowel movements may be present. If infection has occurred due to the object piercing or damaging the walls of the rectum or anus, fever also may be present.

A physical examination is done by inserting a gloved finger into the anal cavity to feel the object and determine its position. Further testing include viewing the rectum and lower part of the large intestine using a flexible viewing scope called sigmoidoscope to rule out any perforation or damage to the wall that may have happened due to the movement of a sharp foreign body. X-rays of the abdomen and pelvic area are also taken.


Usually, the natural peristaltic movements of the large intestine push a free-moving object down into the rectum and nearer to the anus, making it more accessible. When the object can be seen or felt by the doctor and if it is located in a position which can be accessed through the anus, it can be removed under local anesthesia. The doctor injects the anesthetic under the lining of the anus before a rectal retractor is used to distend the anal opening for easy access into the anal canal. The object is manually removed and the area is checked for any perforations or other damage which may require repair.

Sometimes, when an object cannot be seen or felt by the doctor, or when it is not easily accessible for removal through the anus, surgery may be necessary to locate it and manipulate it into the rectum. Under general anesthesia or regional block, an incision is made in the rectum to reach the object and remove it. There is a chance of perforation or other damage to the lower part of the large intestine or to the rectum. A flexible viewing scope called sigmoidoscope is inserted up to the large intestine to check for any such damage which require immediate surgical repair.

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Yasser Elnahas

MD, PHD, Professor Of CardioVascular Surgery
Dr. Yasser Elnahas, Is an associate Professor of Cardiovascular Surgery. Dr. Elnahas was trained as a fellow At Texas Heart Institute And Mayo Clinic Foundation.Dr. Elnahas is dedicated to educating the general public about different disease conditions and simplifying the medical knowledge in an easy to understand terminology.

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