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    Rectal Prolapse

    Overview
    Causes
    Diagnosis
    Treatment
     Where To Seek Treatment

     


    Contributed by Singapore General Hospital

    Overview

    Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum (the lower end of the colon, located just above the anus) drops downwards and turns inside out. In the early stage, the rectum stays inside the body, but as the condition worsens, it may protrude out through the anus. There is often weakness of the anal muscles, and this may result in leakage of stool or mucus. Rectal prolapse is more common in women than men.

    Is Rectal Prolapse The Same As Hemorrhoids?

    They may have the same symptoms such as bleeding and/or a lump that protrudes from the anus. Rectal prolapse, however, involves a part of the intestines higher up within the body, while hemorrhoids develop near the anal opening.

    Causes

    Several factors contribute to the development of rectal prolapse. Repeated straining at stools or stresses during childbirth plays a role. With aging, there is weakening of the tissues that support the rectum and weakening of the muscles of the anus. In some cases, neurological problems, such as spinal cord injury or spinal cord disease, can lead to prolapse. In most cases, however, no single cause can be identified.

    Diagnosis

    The condition can be diagnosed by your doctor. To demonstrate the prolapse, patients may be asked to "strain" as if having a bowel movement or to sit on the commode and "strain" prior to examination.

    For earlier stages, an x-ray examination may be needed for the diagnosis. X-ray pictures are taken while the patient is having a bowel movement. The X-rays also help your doctor in deciding whether surgery is useful and which operation is suitable.

    Anorectal manometry may also be used. This test measures the strength of the muscles of the anus.

    Treatment

    Just treating the constipation and straining may not be enough once rectal prolapse has occurred. There are different types of surgery for rectal prolapse. Your doctor will help you decide which method is most suited for you.

    Success depends on a few factors, including the strength of the anal muscles before surgery, the stage of the prolapse, the overall health of the patient and the type of surgery. A great majority of patients are completely relieved of symptoms, or are significantly helped, by the appropriate procedure.


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