Feature Christmas 2015: Professional Considerations

Death of a proverb

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.h6226 (Published 11 December 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6226
  1. Andrew Jenkinson, surgical house officer, Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, UK
  1. aojenkinson@googlemail.com

During an evening shift on call as a surgical house officer I was pleased to be called to theatre by my consultant. A middle aged patient was having a laparotomy to relieve large bowel obstruction secondary to a fecaloma—a calcified mass of accumulated faeces that is much harder in consistency than a faecal impaction.1 When I asked if I should scrub up, I was told, “No, but you will need a pair of gloves.” The specimen had been removed and needed cleaning before clinical photographs could be taken. My role was to ensure that there was no fresh faeces on the surface of the fecaloma. This case provides evidence that you can polish a turd (fig 1).


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6226


  • Acknowledgments: I thank Louise Hunt, consultant colorectal surgeon, for calling me to theatre.

  • Competing interests: I have read and understood BMJ policy on declaration of interests and have no relevant interests to declare.

  • Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; not externally peer reviewed.


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