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Bezoar

Definition:

A bezoar is a ball of swallowed foreign material (usually hair or fiber) that collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines.



Alternative Names:

Trichobezoar; Hairball



Causes, incidence, and risk factors:

Chewing on or eating hair or fuzzy materials (or indigestible materials such as plastic bags) can lead to the formation of a bezoar. The rate is very low and the risk is greater among mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed children. Generally bezoars are mostly seen in females aged 10 to 19.



Symptoms:

Signs and tests:

The child may have a lump in the abdomen that can be felt by the health care provider. A barium swallow x-ray will show the mass in the stomach. Sometimes a scope is used (endoscopy) to directly view the bezoar.



Treatment:

The bezoar may need to be surgically removed (especially trichobezoars, which tend to be large). Sometimes small bezoars can be removed through a scope placed through the mouth and into the stomach (similar to an EGD procedure). Then, follow the prevention measures described.



Support Groups:



Expectations (prognosis):

Full recovery is expected.



Complications:

Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration .



Calling your health care provider:

Call your health care provider if you suspect your child has a bezoar.



Prevention:

If your child has had a hair bezoar in the past, trim the child's hair short so he or she cannot put the ends in the mouth. Keep indigestible materials away from a child who has a tendency to put items in the mouth.

Be sure to remove the child's access to fuzzy or fiber-filled materials.



References:

Kelsen J, Liacouras CA. Foreign bodies and bezoars. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 326.




Review Date: 8/1/2012
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc.

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