Rectal Prolapse

Rectal prolapse occurs when the last part of large intestine known as rectum falls from its normal position within the pelvic area. Here the word prolapse means falling off from its usual position.

It can occur in three different conditions-
  • There may be a condition where the entire rectum extends out of the anus.
  • There may be a condition when just a portion of the rectal lining is pushed through the anus.
  • There can be a condition where the rectum starts to drop down, but does not extend out the anus. This condition is sometimes called as internal prolapse.

Common causes of rectal prolapse

Rectal prolapse occurs due to the weakening of those ligaments and muscles which our body uses to hold the rectum in its usual position. You may get rectal prolapse if you are having any of the following risk factors.

  • Chronic constipation or diarrhea.
  • Straining for a longer time during bowel movements.
  • With increasing age, muscles and ligaments in the rectum and anus becomes weak on their own. So, this problem is common in older people.
  • Weak anal sphincter muscle.
  • Any injury in your anal and pelvic area.
  • Any damage to nerves that control the contraction of the rectum and anus muscles.
  • It can also occur due to several health complications such as diabetes, cystic fibrosis, hysterectomy, and any infections in the intestines.

Common signs and symptoms of rectal prolapse

A person suffering from rectal prolapse may feel the following symptoms

  • Moderate to severe pain during bowel movements.
  • Discharge of mucus or blood from the protruding tissue.
  • You may lose the ability to control bowel movements.
  • There may be a loss of urge to defecate with larger prolapses.

Treatment for rectal prolapse

The treatment for rectal prolapse aims at correcting a prolapsed rectum by attaching or securing the rectum to the posterior part (back side) of the inner pelvis. Surgery is either performed through the abdomen or the perineum.

  • Surgery through Abdomen- It is usually performed in young or healthy adults. Surgery that is performed through abdomen is generally associated with higher morbidity rate as compared to that which is performed through perineum but there will be lower recurrence rate of prolapse in abdominal approach. It is generally determined by the severity of associated constipation. You may require a stay at the hospital for a minimum of 3 days.
  • Surgery through Perineum-Surgery through perineum is typically performed in older people. It is also performed in person with poor health. It is associated with higher recurrence rate as compared to the surgery with the abdominal approach. It generally involves a stay at the hospital for a short period of time.