Send to

Choose Destination
Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2012 Jan 4;7:3. doi: 10.1186/1750-1172-7-3.

Gastric lactobezoar - a rare disorder?

Author information

Department of Pediatrics, Medical University, Anichstrasse 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria.


Gastric lactobezoar, a pathological conglomeration of milk and mucus in the stomach of milk-fed infants often causing gastric outlet obstruction, is a rarely reported disorder (96 cases since its first description in 1959). While most patients were described 1975-1985 only 26 children have been published since 1986. Clinically, gastric lactobezoars frequently manifest as acute abdomen with abdominal distension (61.0% of 96 patients), vomiting (54.2%), diarrhea (21.9%), and/or a palpable abdominal mass (19.8%). Respiratory (23.0%) and cardiocirculatory (16.7%) symptoms are not uncommon. The pathogenesis of lactobezoar formation is multifactorial: exogenous influences such as high casein content (54.2%), medium chain triglycerides (54.2%) or enhanced caloric density (65.6%) of infant milk as well as endogenous factors including immature gastrointestinal functions (66.0%), dehydration (27.5%) and many other mechanisms have been suggested. Diagnosis is easy if the potential presence of a gastric lactobezoar is thought of, and is based on a history of inappropriate milk feeding, signs of acute abdomen and characteristic features of diagnostic imaging. Previously, plain and/or air-, clear fluid- or opaque contrast medium radiography techniques were used to demonstrate a mass free-floating in the lumen of the stomach. This feature differentiates a gastric lactobezoar from intussusception or an abdominal neoplasm. Currently, abdominal ultrasound, showing highly echogenic intrabezoaric air trapping, is the diagnostic method of choice. However, identifying a gastric lactobezoar requires an investigator experienced in gastrointestinal problems of infancy as can be appreciated from the results of our review which show that in not even a single patient gastric lactobezoar was initially considered as a possible differential diagnosis. Furthermore, in over 30% of plain radiographs reported, diagnosis was initially missed although a lactobezoar was clearly demonstrable on repeat evaluation of the same X-ray films. Enhanced diagnostic sensitivity would be most rewarding since management consisting of cessation of oral feedings combined with administration of intravenous fluids and gastric lavage is easy and resolves over 85% of gastric lactobezoars. In conclusion, gastric lactobezoar is a disorder of unknown prevalence and is nowadays very rarely published, possibly because of inadequate diagnostic sensitivity and/or not yet identified but beneficial modifications of patient management.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center