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Case Report

Seaweed food bolus: A rare cause for small bowel obstruction

William McGahan, Bianca Kwan, Jayson Moloney.


Introduction: Small bowel obstruction is a common acute general surgical presentation. A bezoar is a concretion found within the lumen of the gastrointestinal tract, composed of partially digested or indigestible material. We present a rare case of a small bowel obstruction caused by seaweed phytobezoar.

Presentation of Case: A young woman with a virgin abdomen presented to our facility with a 3-day history of abdominal pain and vomiting. Computed tomography of the abdomen and pelvis was consistent with small bowel obstruction. At laparoscopy, a soft intraluminal obstructing mass was seen. After conversion to mini-laparotomy, an obstructing food bolus consisting of seaweed was found and removed via enterotomy.

Conclusion: Bezoars are an uncommon cause of small bowel obstruction because objects able to traverse the pylorus will usually migrate through to the rectum without impaction. Diagnosis is dependent on a thorough history as findings on computed tomography are nonspecific. Treatment options range from chemical dissolution to endoscopic or surgical intervention depending on the size, location, and substance of the bezoar. It is important to consider food bolus and bezoar in the differential diagnosis for intestinal obstruction, and seaweed is among the food substances that should be asked about.

Key words: Small bowel obstruction, seaweed, food bolus, phytobezoar, bezoar

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