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A fecaloma is a buildup of thickened, stone-like feces in the colon or rectum of various sizes that gives the appearance of a tumor in the belly. The colon is the major part of the large intestine, which is located in the belly. The intestine is a tube shaped structure that is part of the digestive tract. The rectum is the last part of the large intestine. Fecalomas occur when there is a chronic (long-term) blockage of movement through the intestines (e.g., chronic constipation). Another example of chronic blockage in the intestine is megacolon, which is abnormal widening of the colon often accompanied by cessation of movement s in the intestine.
Some fecalomas can become very large and need to be surgically removed, which is known as disimpaction. One condition that can cause this is Chagas disease, which is a type of parasite disease. A parasite is an organism that lives in or on another organism to obtain nourishment. Another condition that can cause fecalomas is Hirschsprung's disease, which is a disorder of the abdomen when all or part of the large intestine or parts of the gastrointestinal tract are without nerves, which prevents them from functioning.
These conditions and others can cause harm to the automomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system is an extensive network in the body (with connections to the spinal cord) that is important for involuntary bodily functions that are necessary to maintain life, such as respiration (breathing) and heart rate.
Although it does not happen often, fecalomas can form around hairballs or other materials that have been shed by the intestine or which attract and hold water and cause a state of dryness. Some fecalomas can be removed by a finger probe (from a doctor of other health care provider) or through use of a catheter that follows the flow of fluid (e.g., water, lubricants, or solvent). A catheter is a flexible, hollow tube that is inserted into an opening of the body, blood vessel, or duct in the body, with the main purpose of allowing fluids, gas, or surgical instruments to pass from or into these areas. A solvent is a usually liquid substance (such as water) that is capable of dissolving or dispersing one or more substances.
Fecalomas and attempts to remove them can have serious and sometimes deadly consequences such as a tearing or rupture of the intestinal wall by the catheter. If the infection becomes severe, this can be followed by infection and sepsis. Sepsis is a possibly deadly medical condition characterized by inflammation of the body. A small fecoloma can sometimes cause acute (sudden) diverticulitis and appendicitis. Diverticulitis is the formation of pouches in the wall of the intestine. Appendicitis is inflammation of the appendix. Fecaloma is also known as coproma, coprolith, fecolith, fecalith, fecal tumor, scatoma, and stercoroma. Fecaloma comes from the Latin word “faeces” meaning “feces” and the Greek word “oma” meaning “tumor.” Put the words together and you get “feces tumor.”