Surgeons save constipated man's life by removing 13kg of faeces

Surgeons save constipated man's life by removing 13kg of faeces
PHOTO: Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital

Surgeons in China saved the life of a young man whose abdomen was so distended, it looked like it was about to burst anytime.

Chinese media reported the 22-year-old patient named Zhou Hai was suffering from severe abdominal pain and was struggling to breathe when he visited a hospital in Shanghai last week.

A CT scan showed that there was a lot of faeces stored in his colon.

Photo: Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital

Zhou told doctors that he had been suffering from constipation since he was born. He took laxatives regularly but they only helped to alleviate his discomfort.

His parents thought that his condition was a small ailment, so it remained untreated for years. It eventually deteriorated until he required emergency treatment.

In a three-hour operation, surgeons removed a section of Zhou's colon that was 76cm long and weighed 13kg.

Photo: Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital

He was later diagnosed with Hirschsprung's disease, a birth defect that causes a blockage in the large intestine.

The missing nerve cells in the colon prevent it from contracting normally, making it unable to push waste matter through the large intestine. This causes chronic constipation and often leads to the development of a megacolon if left untreated.

Treatment of the condition requires surgical removal of the diseased part of the colon, Mayo Clinic explains.

Those with Hirschsprung's disease are also prone to an intestinal infection called enterocolitis which can be life-threatening.

Although the condition is usually discovered in infants when they do not pass motion within 48 hours of birth, there are a few rare cases who are diagnosed in adulthood like Zhou.

The surgeon who treated the man also advised parents to seek medical help if they notice their children suffering from regular constipation.

minlee@sph.com.sg

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