Rectal Prolapse – What is Rectal Prolapse?

Rectal prolapse

is a medical condition wherein the walls of the rectum slip from their original place and protrude (come out) through the anus. As a result, a part of rectum is visible outside the body with leakage of stool or mucus.

The Rectum:

The rectum is a part of large intestine. It is about 12 to 15 centimeters in length. Located just above the the anal canal, the rectum is attached to the pelvis with the help of muscles and ligaments. When these ligaments and muscles fail to hold the rectum in its normal place, the rectum slips on the anus and protrudes through it. Weakness of the anal sphincter muscle is the prime cause of rectal prolapse but let us see what are the other conditions that cause this condition.

Causes of Rectal Prolapse:

Here are conditions that are associated with rectal prolapse:

  • Advanced age
  • Long term constipation
  • Long term straining during defecation
  • Anal sex
  • Long term diarrhea
  • High gastrointestinal helminth loads
  • Pregnancy
  • Stress of childbirth
  • Previous surgery
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
  • Sphincter paralysis

Rectal prolapse is an umbrella term. Depending upon the extent of protruding and prolapse,


chief conditions are known as rectal prolapse:

  • Mucosal prolapse:

    Here only the rectal mucosa (not the entire wall of rectum) prolapses.

  • Full-thickness rectal prolapse:

    This is a severe condition where the entire rectum protrudes through the anus.

  • Internal intussusception:

    Here the rectum collapses but it does not exit the anus.

Rectal prolapse is an uncommon condition that primarily affects elderly people. It is very rare in children. It is more common in women than men. In the United States, 0.42% of the overall population experience this condition. The prevalence is about 1% in older people (above 65 years).

You can more information about diagnosis and treatment of rectal prolapse in related articles in the site.

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