The rectum is the end section of the large intestine. When the rectum stretches and falls through the anus, it is called rectal prolapse.
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Rectal prolapse is caused by weak muscles and ligaments. These structures hold the rectum in place.
Children aged 1-3 years and older adults are at higher risk.
Risk factors in children include:
Cystic fibrosisPrevious anal surgeryMalnutritionStraining during bowel movementsInfections
Risk factors in adults include:
Straining during bowel movementsPregnancy and the stress of childbirthWeakness of pelvic floor muscles due to agingHemorrhoids
Symptoms may include: Difficulty controlling bowel movementsBleeding or mucous from the anusConstipationFeeling of incomplete bowel movementsLoss of urge to defecate
Anal pain or
itchingTissue that sticks out of the anusPain during bowel movements
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your anus and rectum will be examined.
Images may be taken of your body structures. This can be done with: Defecography—series of x-rays of the rectum and anus taken during a bowel movementColonoscopy
—visual exam of the rectum and colon (large intestine) using a flexible tube with a tiny camera on the end
An anorectal manometry may also be done to measure the strength of the anal sphincter muscles, sensation in the rectum, and the reflexes needed for normal bowel movement.
Prolapse in children tends to go away on its own. In adults, gentle pressure to the rectum can sometimes push the rectum back into place. The sooner the condition is treated, the better the outcome. Talk with your doctor about the best plan for you.
Certain medications may help to reduce pain and straining during bowel movements. Your doctor may recommend stool softeners and bulk agents.
In some cases, surgery may be needed. Surgeries used to treat rectal prolapse include: Laparoscopic rectopexy—A laparoscope (a tiny camera) is placed through a small incision in the abdomen. The rectum is secured in place with stitches.Perineal proctectomy—An incision will be made in the rectum. Tissue that is sticking out of the anus is removed.
To help reduce your chance of rectal prolapse:
Eat a healthy diet that is
high in fiber.
Exercise regularly.To train your bowels, create a routine. For example, try to go to the bathroom after lunch each day.Do not rush when moving your bowels.If you feel the urge to move your bowels, go to the bathroom.
Last reviewed December 2015 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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