Lai F.*, Baldini A.***, Balzarini B.*,  Franci A.**, Lamia D.**, M.Rugna**** Magazzini S.*****

* Emergency Department, Ospedale S.Stefano, Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Prato, Italy

** Nurse of Emergency Department, Ospedale S. Stefano, Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Prato, Italy

*** Director of Emergency Department, Ospedale S. Stefano, Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Prato, Italy

 ****M.D. Director SOSD for Territorial Emergency System 118, USL Toscana Centro, Florence, Italy

*****Chief of Emergency Department, Ospedale S. Stefano, Azienda USL Toscana Centro, Prato, Italy



Introduction: Phytobezoars are the most frequently observed type and account for approximately 40% of total number of reported bezoars.

Phytobezoar is a trapped mass in the gastrointestinal system, that consists of components of indigestible vegetable material, most commonly from  pulpy fruits, orange pits, seeds, roots or leeves.

Meckel’s diverticulum (MD) is a congenital anomaly due to the presence of a residue of the omphalo-mesenteric duct organized as a diverticulum, a completely blind sac at the ileal level.

The Authors report a rare case of small bowel obstruction due to phytobezoar associated to Meckel’s diverticulum.

 Discussion: Bowel obstruction due to a phytobezoar in a Meckel’s diverticulum is rare: only few cases have been reported in litterature. MD complications are rare and phytobezoar is one of them with only few cases described in litterature.

Keywords: bowel obstruction, phytobezoar, Meckel’s diverticulum, intussusception.


   The Authors describe a 67 years old male presented in Emergency Department (ED) with abdominal pain associated to vomiting, no fever and  no other symptoms were referred.

  The patient referred prior surgery for intussusception in pediatric age.

The  blood pressure was 154/81 mmHg, the heart rate of 70 beats for minute, SpO2 was 98% in room air.

The physical exam showed normal findings for thorax and heart sounds. Abdomen was painful and no peristaltic sounds were present and  was defended.

Blood samples were performed and showed: a normal renal and hepatic function, with normal coagulation pattern, hemochrome showed: WBC 11.9 10^3 µ/L; GR 5.59 10^6 µ/L, Hb 15.7 g/Dl, PLT: 215 10^ 3; PCR 0.62 mg/Dl. Sars-COV2 buffer sample was negative.

Blood gas analysis showed normal EAB with a modest ipochloremia.; no methabolic acidosis was present, and lactate showed a normal range as well.

Eco-fast showed normal patterns and no bladder globe.

The strong suspect was related to rule out appendicitis, diverticulitis, cholangitis or cholecystitis, bacterial peritonitis and intestinal perforation. For this reasons was perfomed an abdomen CT scan with intravenous contrast agent which pointed out  in the lumen of distal ileum in the median hypogatsric site the presence of a coarse roundish component with a fecaloid-like appearance (maximum longitudinal extension of 11 cm and maximum axial dimensions of 9 cm) in the first hypothesis bezoar, which determines distension and hydro-aereal levels in the tenual loops upstream to the distal jejunal tract. On the right lateral side of the ileum, at this level, there is a small parietal ejection extended by fluid (likely Meckel’s diverticulum).

CT Scan findings are showed in Figures 1, 2, 3 and 4.

After CT scans a more accurate patient interview reported that the previous day he had eaten two oranges and that he also ate the peel.

Finally a surgical consultation was performed and the patient was admitted in Surgery for small bowel obstruction due to phytobezoar.


A bezoar is a tightly packed collection of partially digested or undigested material that most commonly occurs in stomach. Gastric bezoars can occur in all age groups and often occur in patients with behaviour disorders, abnormal gastric emptying, or altered gastrointestinal anatomy. Many bezoars are asymptomatic, but some

cause symptoms. Some bezoars can be dissolved chemically, others require endoscopic removal, and some even require surgery [1].

Bezoars are classified according to their composition:

  • Phytobezoars (most common) are composed of indigestible fruit and vegetable matter such as fiber, peels, and seeds.
  • Trichobezoars are composed of hair.
  • Pharmacobezoars are concretions of ingested drugs (particularly common with sucralfate and aluminum hydroxide gel).
  • Diospyrobezoars, a subset of phytobezoars, result from excessive intake of persimmon and occur most often in regions where the fruit is grown.
  • Lactobezoars are composed of milk protein.
  • Other bezoars are composed of a variety of other substances including tissue paper and polystyrene foam products such as cups.

Phytobezoar: Phytobezoars are the most frequently observed type and account for approximately 40% of the total number of reported bezoars [2].

Phytobezoar is a trapped mass in the gastrointestinal system, that consists of components of indigestible vegetable material, most commonly from pulpy fruits, orange pits, seeds, roots or leeves [3].

Usually a single mass is found but in rare cases multiple masses can also be found.

Symptoms associated with phytobezoar are: nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, bleeding, gastric outlet.

The bezoarian formationis secondary to:

  • Medical conditions that decrease motility in the stomach (gastroparesis)
  • Prior gastric surgery
  • Decrease of gastric acid secretion/acidity
  • Dysphagia (due to loss of teeth, poorly fitting dentures or difficulty in chewing the food properly)
  • Weight loss

Diagnosys [4]:

  • X-rays
  • CT scan
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Endoscopy


Phytobezoar can be treated either medically or surgically. Medical approach consists in administering a large amount of oral liquids in association with antispasmodic agents in case of little bezoar with no signs of bowel obstruction.

Another kind of  treatment for phytobezoar removal consists in using endoscopic approach or extracorporeal lithotripsy.

The risk of using medical treatment is that the procedure may be uncomplete and can expose the patient to iatrogenic complications such as oesophageal-gastric injuries (perforations, bleeding tear, haematoma) or intestinal obstruction due to distal migration of daughter fragments.

Surgical treatment of bezoars is eventually performed by removing the same during gastrostomy and/or enterotomy [5].

Complications: If not treated it may cause gastric ulcers, bleeding, intestinal damage or perforation and bowel obstruction.

Meckel diverticulum (MD): This congenital diverticulum is a slight bulge in the small intestine present at birth and a vestigial remnant of the omphalo-mesenteric duct (also called the vitelline duct or yolk stalk) that ends with a completely blind sac at the ileal level. It is the most common malformation of the gastrointestinal tract and is present in approximately 2% of the population, with males more frequently experiencing symptoms [6].

Most of the population with DM are asymptomatic.

Most common symptoms are rectal painless bleeding, intestinal obstructions, volvulus and intussusception. Occasionally DM may present with acute appendicitis symptoms. It can also present severe epigatsric pain [7].


  • CT scan
  • Angiography
  • Abdominal ultrasound
  • Accidentally by laparoscopy

Surgical treatment[8]

Frequent complications are rappresented by: Haemorrhage, intestinal obstruction, diverticulitis, umbelical anomalies, neoplasm.

Small Bowel obstruction due to a phytobezoar in a MD is rare (only few cases have been reported in litterature) [9].

The clinical assestment on its own might not be enough to get a correct diagnosis so it is mandatory to arrange several radiological investigations.

CT scan is useful to localize the bezoar as well as to identify bowel obstruction and complications such as perforation.

In the present report the phytobezoar the cause of formation of  bezoar could be due to the relationship between alimentary habits, concomitant presence of MD and prior abdominal surgery for intussusception [10] [11].

From the data obtained by litterature emerges that the possible presence of DM, moreover associated to prior abdominal surgery, predisposes to the formation of phytobezoar and intestinal obstruction [9].


A patient with abdominal pain, with previous abdominal surgery, difficulty in chewing, diet rich in fibers and/or delayed gastric emptying comes to their attention; clinicians may suspect that are facing a case of phytobezoar.

Phytobezoar  small bowel obstructions on diverticular malformation and previous gastric surgery are rare clinical events and require prompt and drastic treatment to avoid serious complications, even fatal [2] [12].

The timeliness of diagnostics to be carried out in the emergency room and the collaboration with the specialist surgeon are fundamental for an appropriate and rapid patient care in order to prevent serious complications.


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[2]Bini R, Quiriconi F, Tello A, Fusca M, Loddo F, Leli R, Addeo A. Phytobezoar in Meckel’s diverticulum: A rare cause of small bowel obstruction. Int J Surg Case Rep. 2012;3(5):161-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ijscr.2012.01.006. Epub 2012 Feb 3. PMID: 22382033; PMCID: PMC3316763.
[3]Chen JH, Chen KY, Chang WK. Intestinal obstruction induced by phytobezoars. CMAJ. 2010 Nov 23;182(17):E797. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.090316. Epub 2010 Jul 19. PMID: 20643839; PMCID: PMC2988565.
[4]Frazzini VI Jr, English WJ, Bashist B, Moore E. Case report. Small bowel obstruction due to phytobezoar formation within Meckel diverticulum: CT findings. J Comput Assist Tomogr. 1996 May-Jun;20(3):390-2. doi: 10.1097/00004728-199605000-00012. PMID: 8626897.
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[7]Soltero MJ, Bill AH. The natural history of Meckel’s Diverticulum and its relation to incidental removal. A study of 202 cases of diseased Meckel’s Diverticulum found in King County, Washington, over a fifteen year period. Am J Surg. 1976 Aug;132(2):168-73. doi: 10.1016/0002-9610(76)90043-x. PMID: 952346.
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[9]Hussein, Bassem Abou et al. “Phytobezoar impaction in a Meckel’s diverticulum; a rare cause of bowel obstruction: Case report and review of literature.” International journal of surgery case reports vol. 30 (2017): 165-168. doi:10.1016/j.ijscr.2016.10.070
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[11]Van de Steeg LH, Postema RR. Sinaasappelileus bij een Meckel-divertikel [Ileus due to oranges in Meckel’s diverticulum]. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd. 2012;156(46):A5353. Dutch. PMID: 23151334.
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