Rectal foreign body

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  • Make sure that object is not sharp before exam
  • Injuries may consist of hematoma, lacerations (with potential perforation)
  • Patients often do not present immediately; this prolonged retention increases the chances of complication

Clinical Features

  • Rectal pain and/or fullness
  • History of rectal foreign body placement
  • Most are in the rectal ampulla and therefore palpable on digital examination
  • Rectal bleeding

Differential Diagnosis

Anorectal Disorders


Foreign body noted in rectum on lateral abdominal xray
  • Abdominal xray
    • Demonstrate position, shapes, and number of foreign bodies
    • Demonstrates possible presence of free air (perforation of rectum or colon)
      • Perforation of rectum below peritoneal reflection shows extraperitoneal air along psoas
      • Perforation above peritoneal reflection reveals intraperitoneal free air under diaphragm
  • CT
    • Useful when foreign body is radiolucent and for detection of free air


ED removal

Suitable for non-sharp objects that are in the distal rectum

  1. Sedation
    • IV sedation and analgesia usually needed for adequate relaxation for removal of larger FB's
    • Local anesthesia (Perianal Block) will relax the anal sphincter and may be needed.
  2. Manual removal
    • Anal lubrication
    • In lithotomy position, suprapubic pressure with DRE and valsalva may deliver object without instrumentation.
    • May also attempt removal in prone knee-to-chest position with the patient bearing down
    • Anoscope utilization and direct lighting will often improve visualization of the object if low lying
    • If obstetric forceps needed, patient should bear down as object is extracted.
    • Large bulbar objects create a vacuum-like effect
      • Break vacuum by passing foley behind object, inject air and pull foley out (balloon up)
      • Can introduce multiple foley catheters from different angles beyond the object, inflate the balloons, and slowly retract the foleys - using the force to help extract the object.

Surgical Consultation Indications

  • Removal could injure the sphincter
  • ED attempts fail
  • Risk of ischemia, perforation, or if excess manipulation required (risk of bacteremia)

Consider Gastroenterology Consultation

  • Can consider requesting sigmoidoscopy after object removal to rule out mucosal lacerations or small perforations not seen on radiographs[1]
    • This is a concern in prolonged retention, objects with sharp corners, or toxic appearing patients


  • Consider observation for at least 12hr if concern for rectal perforation

See Also


  1. Coskun, A. et al. Management of Rectal Foreign Bodies. World J Emerg Surg. 2013; 8:11.