Digestive Disorders / Gastroenterology Expert Forum
Changes in stool shape
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Changes in stool shape

I am a male in my early forties, healthy, non-smoker, non-drinker, eats well.  Family has no history of colon cancer or polyps.  I have been treated for H-Pylori six years ago.
Two months ago, I began to experience loose stool.  My bowel movements were regular (once a day, sometimes two).  I also experienced increase in gas.  About three weeks ago, my stools began to go back to normal consistency but I noticed there was a change in the shape of the stool.  When I pass the stool, the first six inches would be a normal shape but then it would start to taper its shape to a rectangular shape of 1" x 3/8".  There is no blood in the stool.  I did have an occult blood test and a blood anemia test last week and they both came back negative.  I do not have any abdominal discomfort or pain.  My doctor also did a digital rectal exam and said everything looks good down there.  At this time, my doctor says to hold off with any other diagnostic exams (ie: Barium Enema or colonoscopy) to see if the symtoms (symptoms) change.  Would any kind of bacterial infection or Irritable Bowel Syndrome cause this kind of narrowing of the stool?  What else could cause narrowing of the stool?
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Any changes in stool shape warrants further investigation.  Any type of anatomical abnormality (i.e. polyps or cancer) can lead to the symptoms.  

Less severe causes can indeed include irritable bowel syndrome as well as inflammatory bowel disease.

I would suggest a colonoscopy at this time for a more thorough evaluation.  Discussion of this test can be made with a GI specialist or another opinion.

Followup with your personal physician is essential.

This answer is not intended as and does not substitute for medical advice - the information presented is for patient education only. Please see your personal physician for further evaluation of your individual case.

Kevin, M.D.
kevinmd_
25 Comments
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I am having a colonoscopy for the EXACT same thing on Wed.  I will try to get back to you after that.  But I would definitely recommend you have one.  It can be a sign of colon cancer.  If they catch it in Stage I and II, it is very curable; but it it's caught later, it gets more serious.  So, better safe than sorry.
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Thanks Thuney.  Did you get occult blood and anemia test?  All the best on your colonoscopy.  Let me know how it goes.
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No anemia--no blood in fecal matter.  My doctor called this morning and cancelled my colonoscopy because he just read my chart over (I was a referral to him and didn't actually meet with him)and saw where I had had a few previous surgeries and he wants to discuss these with me first.  So I have an appt with him next Wednesday.  I'll keep you posted and you do the same.  I am interested in how you are doing.
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PS:  I re-read your symptoms, and I do have abdominal and back pain.  

I also am a non-smoker, non-drinker with no history of colon cancer in my family.
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I am scheduled for a colonscopy for next week.  I'll let you know how it goes.
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I am glad you scheduled it.  Good Luck!
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How did your colonoscopy go?  I have mine on Monday.  Let me know.  I am pretty scared since the pain is coming back again pretty good tonight.
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HI Thuney, meant to tell you not to worry too much about "smaller" stools. After my clear colonoscopy the doc said it can be caused by IBS or stress or even by internal hemorrhoids.

Linda J

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My colonocsopy has been rescheduled for this Friday.
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Linda J.  What symptoms did you experience to warrant a colonoscopy?
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Did you have your colonoscopy this week?
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Colonoscopy is scheduled for June 30th.  How did yours turn out?
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They re-scheduled it--I have it this coming Monday--will let you know
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Had the colonoscopy today--all clear.  The prep was a lot worse than the procedure.  

They still have not found a cause for this pain I have in my left side or the change in stools.  At this point, I am running out of ideas.

Let me know how yours turns out!!
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My stool were smaller in size too. But, now with a clear colonoscopy they are saying IBS or stress? So, I wouldn't get real alarmed at the change in stool size thing. It seems that can be caused by conditions other than colon cancer.

Linda J
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Glad to hear your colonoscopy was clear.  What is next for you? I'll let you know how mine goes.
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I see a urologist next week.  However, this GI dr is now changing his tune a little and told my hubby that "maybe" this could all be caused by a fall I had two months ago.  Before he said "no".

So...I was wondering, have you had any kind of fall or accident lately where your lower back could be out?

Anyhow, let me know how your colonoscopy turns out.

Also, have you ever had any surgeries before (e.g. appendix or anything in you stomach or pelvic area)??
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I had severe lower back pain (mostly on left side) about six months ago.  I went for treatment with a chiropractor and also got x-rays.  X-rays showed that my lower back and hips were out of alignment and was causing pinched nerves and muscle spasms in my back.  Over the course of four months, I had regular treatments from chiropractor to correct my back.  Now I am pain free.  Interesting that your GI would consider a back injury.  I wonder if my back problems is what is causing the change in stool size.
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My Gi said no, but my hubby is very, very health conscience (diet--works out regularly), but he has a bad back which used to give him trouble all the time.  It isn't nearly as ba since he works out regularly, but he says that eveytime his back is out, his BMs are all screwed up.

It is still a good idea to rule out any other serious possibilities first--better to err on the side of safety.
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Had my colonoscopy today and all is clear.  You're right about the prep...
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I'm glad to hear you got the "al clear" on your colonoscopy!!!  Have your symptoms eased up at all?

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The stool shape and size changes from day to day.  I am trying to figure out any pattern of behavior or foods I am eating.  How about you?  Any progress on the pain front?
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The pain has been a lot better while I am back on the antibiotics, but has started to increase again today.  I saw a different GP yesterday since mine is on vacation, and he is the first doctor to ever tell me this, but he said, "PAIN can cause your BMs to change."

Anyhow, I thought that was reassuring.  I have another urinalysis on Monday--have to be off the antibiotics for 48 hours.  Then go to urologist on the 19th.  My GP feels he will be ordering a cystoscope to look at my bladder.
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Let me know how your appt with urologist goes.  If it is all right with you, I will pray for you and wisdom for the doctors.
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