Phytobezoar: an uncommon cause of small bowel obstruction

E M Chisholm, H T Leong, S C Chung, A K Li
Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 1992, 74 (5): 342-4
Phytobezoars are an unusual cause of small bowel obstruction. We report 13 patients presenting with 16 episodes of small bowel obstruction from phytobezoars. Eleven patients had previously undergone surgery for peptic ulceration (eight truncal vagotomy and pyloroplasty). A history of ingestion of persimmon fruit was common and the majority of cases presented in the autumn when this fruit is in season. One phytobezoar causing obstruction at the third part of the duodenum was removed by endoscopic fragmentation, while an episode of jejunal obstruction was precipitated by endoscopic fragmentation of a gastric bezoar. Twelve patients underwent surgery for obstruction on 15 occasions, with milking of the phytobezoar to the caecum performed in ten, enterotomy and removal in four and resection in one patient. Associated gastric phytobezoars were found in two cases and multiple small bowel bezoars in two other cases. These were removed to prevent recurrent obstruction. Phytobezoar should be considered preoperatively as a cause of obstruction in patients with previous ulcer surgery. Wherever possible milking of a phytobezoar to the caecum should be performed. Careful assessment for other phytobezoars should be made. Prevention of phytobezoars is dependent upon dietary counselling of patients by surgeons after gastric resection or vagotomy and drainage for peptic ulcer.

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