Phytobezoar is a well-known although uncommon cause of mechanical alimentary tract obstruction, mainly in patients who have undergone previous gastric operation. Between January 1988 and March 1995, we operated on 14 patients with gastrointestinal obstruction due to phytobezoar. Eleven patients (78.6%) had undergone previous gastric operation and in all of them the diagnosis was made at the time of surgery. All admissions were during winter: supposedly because of the seasonal increase in intake of citrus fruits and persimmons. During the 7-year study period, we observed an unexpected increase in the incidence of this disorder. During the first 4 years we treated 2 patients (14.3%), an average of 0.5 patients a year, whereas during the last 3 years we operated on 12 patients (87.7%), an average of 4 patients a year. The recent increase in small-bowel obstruction secondary to phytobezoars may at least in part be explained by a major immigration wave from the former USSR. These immigrants have become exposed to an abundance of cheap fruits such as citrus and persimmons that were not available in their home country. The large consumption and the failure of information regarding the risks of consuming these fruits in association with previous gastric surgery may have played a major role in the recent increase of the incidence. Since phytobezoars may play increasingly an important role in the future due to the ingestion of great quantities of different fruits containing great amounts of cellulose, these findings call for restriction of citrus fruit and persimmons in patients who have undergone gastric surgery.

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