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.
Symptoms may include:
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 movement
- Colonoscopy —visual exam of the rectum and colon using a flexible tube with a tiny camera
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 chances 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.
American Gastroenterological Association http://www.gastro.org
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons https://www.fascrs.org
Bad Gut—Canadian Society of Intestinal Research https://www.badgut.org
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Constipation in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116186/Constipation-in-adults . Updated November 22, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018.
Constipation in children. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T900171/Constipation-in-children . Updated August 24, 2017. Accessed January 9, 2018.
Rectal prolapse and procidentia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/anorectal-disorders/rectal-prolapse-and-procidentia. Updated October 2016. Accessed January 9, 2018.
- Reviewer: EBSCO Medical Review Board Daus Mahnke, MD
- Review Date: 11/2018
- Update Date: 12/20/2014