Rectal foreign body

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

Clinical Features

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

Differential Diagnosis

Anorectal Disorders


Foreign body noted in rectum on lateral abdominal xray
  • Abdominal xray
    • Demonstrate position, shape, 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 small amounts of free air


ED removal

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

  • Consider IV sedation and analgesia for larger foreign bodies
  • Perianal block may be useful to help relax anal sphincter
  • 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 can 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.

OR Removal

  • Consult surgery for OR removal if:
    • Size, shape, or location of object has potential to injure anal sphincter during removal
    • Attempts at removal in ED fail
    • Risk of ischemia, perforation, or if excess manipulation required (risk of bacteremia)

Other Considerations

  • Consider GI consult for sigmoidoscopy after removal[1] if:
    • Prolonged retention, objects with sharp corners, 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.