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Bezoar

  • Definition
    • A bezoar is a ball of swallowed foreign material most often composed of hair or fiber. It collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines.

  • Alternative Names
    • Trichobezoar; Hairball

  • Causes
    • 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. The risk is greater among people with intellectual disability or emotionally disturbed children. Generally, bezoars are mostly seen in females aged 10 to 19.

  • Symptoms
    • Symptoms may include:

  • Exams 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 if it is large. In some cases, small bezoars may be removed through a scope placed through the mouth into the stomach. This is similar to an EGD procedure.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • Full recovery is expected.

  • Possible Complications
  • When to Contact a Medical Professional
    • Call your 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
    • Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW III, Schor NF. Foreign bodies and bezoars. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St Geme JW III, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 334.