Fecal impaction is when dry, hard stool cannot exit the body.
Stool may not be able to exit the body if it is too large and/or the intestinal muscles are too weak.
Certain factors may increase your risk of fecal impaction, such as:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. A digital rectal exam may also be done.
Your bodily fluids may be checked. This can be done with blood tests.
Your bodily structures may need to be viewed to determine the severity of the impaction. This can be done with:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Options include:
Your doctor may initially advise medications to help you pass the stool. This may include:
Your doctor may advise long-term use of stool-softeners while your bowel function slowly returns to normal
To help return your bowel function to normal and prevent future fecal impaction problems:
American Gastrointestinal Association
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Constipation in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900171/Constipation-in-children. Updated June 2, 2016. Accessed October 3, 2016.
Fecal impaction. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/constipation/gi-complications-pdq#link/_15. Updated May 12, 2015. Accessed November 10, 2015.
Fecal impaction (child). University of Minnesota Medical Center website. Available at: http://www.uofmmedicalcenter.org/HealthLibrary/Article/512029EN. Accessed November 10, 2015.
Last reviewed November 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.