A bezoar is a ball of swallowed foreign material most often composed of hair or fiber. It collects in the stomach and fails to pass through the intestines.
Chewing on or eating hair or fuzzy materials (or indigestible materials such as plastic bags) can lead to the formation of a bezoar. The rate is very low. The risk is greater among people with intellectual disability or emotionally disturbed children. Generally, bezoars are mostly seen in females aged 10 to 19.
Symptoms may include:
Exams and Tests
The child may have a lump in the abdomen that can be felt by the health care provider. A barium swallow x-ray will show the mass in the stomach. Sometimes, a scope is used (endoscopy) to directly view the bezoar.
Lump in the abdomen
A lump in the abdomen is a small area of swelling or bulge of tissue in the belly.
Barium swallow x-ray
An upper GI and small bowel series is a set of x-rays taken to examine the esophagus, stomach, and small intestine. Barium enema is a related test th...
The bezoar may need to be surgically removed, especially if it is large. In some cases, small bezoars may be removed through a scope placed through the mouth into the stomach. This is similar to an EGD procedure.
Esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) is a test to examine the lining of the esophagus, stomach, and first part of the small intestine.
Full recovery is expected.
Persistent vomiting can lead to dehydration.
Dehydration occurs when your body does not have as much water and fluids as it needs. Dehydration can be mild, moderate, or severe, based on how much...
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your provider if you suspect your child has a bezoar.
If your child has had a hair bezoar in the past, trim the child's hair short so they cannot put the ends in the mouth. Keep indigestible materials away from a child who has a tendency to put items in the mouth.
Be sure to remove the child's access to fuzzy or fiber-filled materials.
Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF. Foreign bodies and bezoars. In: Kliegman RM, Stanton BF, St. Geme JW, Schor NF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 20th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 334.
Pfau PR, Hancock SM. Foreign bodies, bezoars, and caustic ingestions. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease: Pathophysiology/Diagnosis/Management. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 27.
Review Date: 9/5/2017
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.