The word Bezoar (BE-zor) comes from the Persian word, which means Antidote. Once bezoars were believed to have the power of antidote against any poison, a glass of bezoar can neutralize any poison poured into it.
Muslim physician Ibn Zuhr in 1161, known to the west as Avenzoar is thought to have first described bezoar stones. A surgeon Ambroise Pare in 1575 designed an experiment to test bezoar stone's properties. In addition, later he proved bezoar stones could not cure from all poisons as believed.
Bezoars are classified into six types based on their composition. They are:
- Lactobezoar - is composed of thickened milk, it is most common among premature infants receiving baby formula foods.
- Pharmacobezoars - is medicine bezoars, mostly masses of drugs normally due to overdose or sustained-release (long lasting) medications.
- Phytobezoars - are indigestible cellulose bezoars (plant material), and are most common among patients with impaired digestion (low acid secretion), decreased gastric motility and those who are under only plant diet.
- Trichobezoars - are composed of hair, generally occurs among young children or psychiatric disordered people. Hair pulling and hair eating can normally proceed to trichobezoar formation.
Stomach is the most common site for the bezoars, which is partially digested or undigested food or other material mass. It may be due to curved shape of the stomach and/or pyloric sphincter (narrow opening) that must pass through to the small intestine.
Bezoars Risk factors
The chances of having bezoar are more, if you:
- Are having delayed stomach emptying may be due to a gastric surgery.
- Have a low stomach acid production or smaller stomach size.
- Have diabetes or end stage of the kidney disease.
- Had pyloric stenosis during or immediately sometime after birth.
- Are receiving supported breathing with the help of mechanical ventilation.
- It is more common among psychiatric illness or developmental disability’s patients.
Some common bezoars symptoms are:
- Cramps, Bloating, Stomach upset or distress
- Early fullness and unable to take on more,
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Loss of appetite
- Gastric ulcers
- Blood in the stool
- Sometimes fever
- Abdomen feels tender
- Foul breath, and
- Loss of weight.
Bezoars are diagnoses using:
- X-ray – diagnose bezoars as an obstructing object seen on the x-ray of the abdomen.
- Endoscopy - a flexible tube with light and camera in one end for visual examination of digestive tract is useful to determine any tumor or nature of obstructing object.
- CT scans - is rarely useful to identify the bezoars.
First, stop further formation of bezoars by limiting or avoiding fruits and vegetables and keep fiber intake low and other bezoar forming materials.
Sometimes your doctor may advise you to take liquid diet only to help excrete the bezoar (obstructive material).
The treatment for bezoars is usually a plan based upon the bezoar type. The first treatment option involves high dosage of digestive enzymes or meat tenderizers with an enzyme papain, which helps to break fibers.
Sometimes bezoars removes by endoscopic manipulation a flexible tube device with light and camera equipped with tiny forceps, which helps to grasp and remove the bezoar.
If your doctor suspects a blunt foreign object stick in the digestive tract, the drug glucagon can help to relax the digestive tract and allow the object to pass through, other drugs such as metoclopramide.
After bezoar treatment, it is important for you to learn how to avoid future formation of bezoars.
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.