Rectal foreign body


Anatomy of the anus and rectum.
  • 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

Foreign Body Types

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


Body spray can in rectum on abdominal plain film.
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 for:[1]
    • Prolonged retention
    • Object with sharp corner(s)
    • Toxic appearing patient

Body Stuffing

  • Ingestion of illicit drugs while pursued by law enforcement; usually small quantity
  • Consider activated charcoal
  • Consider whole bowel irrigation if develop toxicity
  • Consider discharge if do not develop toxicity after 4hr obs


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

See Also

External Links


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