AskDefine | Define impaction

Dictionary Definition



1 the condition of being pressed closely together and firmly fixed
2 a disorder in which feces are impacted in the lower colon
3 a disorder in which a tooth is so crowded in its socket that it cannot erupt normally [syn: impacted tooth]
4 a sharp collision produced by striking or dashing against something [syn: impingement]

User Contributed Dictionary



From Latin impingere (to dash against, impinge).



  1. compression; the packing together of loose matter
  2. something packed together tightly; a mass of densely-packed matter
  3. a solid, immobile bulk of stool

Extensive Definition

Impaction, from the Latin impingere, is a medical term used to describe several different types of blockage.

In Reptiles

Impaction occurs in reptiles when they consume something that they cannot digest. Common causes of impaction are rocks and sand which might be accidentally consumed when the reptile attacks its prey. Once the substance is ingested it will block the digestive tract and, if untreated, cause death.


Some symptoms include a lack of appetite or lethargy. On many animals a large blue seemingly bruised spot will be visible in the abdomen; however, this only shows through if the skin on the animal is clear enough to see the lower internal organs.


Common treatments involve placing the animal in a lukewarm bath and gently rubbing the area under the impaction to help the passing of the consumed substance. If this fails, the animal must have an enema.

In Horses

An impaction may be a cause of colic, see horse colic.

In Humans

In relation to Digestion

See also: fecal impaction
Impaction is a pathological condition in humans when an impassable mass of stone-like faecal matter collects in the rectum. It frequently occurs as a result of dehydration, inactivity, and medications, such as narcotics or psychotropicagents, which slow the peristalsis, and increase the time that the colonic mucosa will extract moisture from the faecal bolus.


Treatment involves attempts at moving the impaction by enema and, failing that, breaking up the impaction transrectally by using a (gloved) finger, pressing the mass against the coccyx to fracture it into smaller pieces. Proceeding this, A follow-up enema is usually required in addition to proper ongoing hydration, bulk in the diet, exercise and review of all medications to discontinue all those responsible is important to prevent recurrence.
Impaction is also used, in conjunction with filtration, to remove large dust particles and other foreign objects as they enter the body through the nose.

Dental Impaction

See also: Wisdom teeth

Informal Definition

Dental impactions are often known to occur when there is not enough room in the jaw for new molar teeth to erupt properly. This can lead to a variety of dental problems, including cysts. There are several types of dental impaction


impaction in French: Impaction
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