Medical Q&As

Prolapse of rectum - treatment?

Can you tell me about prolapse of the rectum and what treatments are available?

Prolapse of the rectum is a protrusion of part of the bowel through the anus. It is much more common in women than in men and can happen at any age including the very young and the elderly. It can be associated with severe constipation but in many cases the exact cause of the condition is unknown. It can be associated with weak pelvic floor muscles or weakness in the anal sphincter. The degree of prolapse may be partial and consist of extrusion of the mucosa or lining membrane of the rectum right through to full prolapse of a segment of the rectum. The problem usually begins with protrusion of the rectum during the act of defaecation, which then goes back by itself when defaecation has finished. As the condition progresses it may be necessary for the prolapse to be reduced by hand. The prolapse usually leads to poor control of bowel function and can lead to faecal incontinence. The prolapse can also give rise to rectal bleeding and the passage of mucous. Diagnosis of the condition is usually straightforward because the examining doctor can readily inspect the prolapse. In children treating the underlying constipation can usually relieve the condition. In the case of adults with incomplete prolapse, bulk laxatives may be helpful because such laxatives help to reduce straining at stool. In the case of more severe degrees of prolapse surgery is usually necessary.