Which signs of constipation can be distinguished in a radiograph?

Updated: Jul 05, 2019
  • Author: Marc D Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS; Chief Editor: BS Anand, MD  more...
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Answer

Differentiation of fecal impaction (see the images below), bowel obstruction, and fecalith (hard mass of stools) is possible. Diagnosis of fecaliths is important because of the dreaded complication of stercoral ulcers, which can lead to colonic perforation. Stercoral perforation is a rare but life-threatening surgical emergency of perforation due to pressure necrosis that can lead to peritonitis.

Constipation. This radiograph reveals colon disten Constipation. This radiograph reveals colon distention secondary to fecal impaction.
Constipation. Pseudo-obstruction secondary to feca Constipation. Pseudo-obstruction secondary to fecal impaction is shown on this radiograph.

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