Man Constipated For 22 Years Needed Surgery To Remove Faeces That Had Accumulated Since Birth

By maks in Health and Fitness On 19th February 2024

I know it might cause some worry, but if constipation has been a recent issue for you, it's important that you pay attention to this story.

In an astonishing medical case in China, a man was forced to undergo significant surgical intervention after not being able to defecate for an incredible 22 years.

The individual, who chose to stay anonymous, had battled with constipation throughout his entire life.

Despite attempting to alleviate his condition with laxatives, they barely made a difference, leading him to finally seek medical help.

The man was unable to poop for 22 years. Credit: Aleksandr Zubkov/Getty Stock

Dr. Yin Lu of the 10th People's Hospital of Shanghai encountered the man and remarked that he appeared 'looking more than nine months pregnant' due to his condition.

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It was only during surgery that Dr. Yin Lu was able to grasp the severity of the man's condition.

In a procedure that lasted three hours in 2017, Dr. Yin Lu discovered the patient had accumulated a lifetime's worth of stool in his colon, necessitating the removal of 30 inches of the organ.


Following this operation, the man's enlarged colon, weighing a shocking 29 pounds, led to a diagnosis of Hirschsprung's disease.

This rare condition is estimated to affect one in every 5,000 newborns.

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Surgeons removed 30 inches of the man's colon. Credit: Shanghai Tenth People's Hospital

Boston's Children's Hospital explains Hirschsprung's disease as a condition where "some of your baby's intestinal nerve cells (ganglion cells) don't develop properly," which disrupts the normal movement of stool through the intestines.

The hospital's website elaborates, stating: "The intestine becomes blocked with stool, and your baby or child will be constipated (unable to have normal bowel movements).

"Often, a serious infection called enterocolitis can occur, which causes fever, pain, and diarrhea."


Symptoms of this disease include not having a bowel movement within the first 48 hours of life, noticeable swelling of the abdomen, gradual onset of vomiting, fever, and constipation or the inability to have regular bowel movements.

It's worth noting that this condition doesn't only manifest at birth.

Some children might not exhibit signs of Hirschsprung's disease until they are older.

Hirschsprung’s disease typically begins at birth or in older children. Credit: Peter Dazeley/Getty Stock

For older children, symptoms can include worsening constipation over time, a reduction in appetite, stunted growth, the passing of small, watery stools, and abdominal swelling.

The man who needed surgery revealed that his condition had deteriorated significantly because, during his younger years, his family did not pay much attention to his symptoms, leading him to believe it 'was not a big deal', as he shared with The Paper.


However, as he grew older, he started to suspect that he might have Hirschsprung's disease.

In essence, the takeaway from this story is simple: do not overlook symptoms of constipation.