Rectal Prolapse – Diagnosis of 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. In this article, we shall discuss how rectal prolapse is diagnosed.

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.

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.

How rectal prolapse is diagnosed:

Diagnosis of rectal prolapse aims at knowing the type of rectal prolapse and the extent of prolapse in each type. A doctor diagnoses rectal prolapse by taking patient history followed by a complete

anorectal examination.

The doctor may ask the patient to sit on the toilet and strain as if he is defecating. Administering of a

phosphate enema

is done to confirm the diagnosis. It distinguishes rectal prolapse from protruding or prolapsing hemorrhoids.

In some conditions, there can be “hidden” or internal prolapse. A


is used in such conditions. A defecogram helps in distinguishing a mucosal prolapse from a complete prolapse. The videodefecogram helps the doctor see inside of anus.

Anorectal manometry

is used to evaluate muscle functions around the anus during the bowel movement.

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

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