Rectal Prolapse - Topic Overview
What is rectal prolapse?
Rectal prolapse occurs
when part or all of the
wall of the rectum slides out of place, sometimes
sticking out of the anus. See a picture of
rectal prolapse .
There are three types of rectal prolapse .
- Partial prolapse (also called mucosal
prolapse). The lining (mucous membrane) of the rectum slides out of place and
usually sticks out of the anus. This can happen when you strain to have a bowel movement. Partial prolapse is most common in
children younger than 2 years.
- Complete prolapse. The entire
wall of the rectum slides out of place and usually sticks out of the anus. At
first, this may occur only during bowel movements. Eventually, it may occur
when you stand or walk. And in some cases, the prolapsed tissue may remain
outside your body all the time.
- Internal prolapse (intussusception). One part of the wall of the large
intestine (colon) or rectum may slide into or over another part, like the
folding parts of a toy telescope. The rectum does not stick out of the anus. (See
a picture of
intussusception .) Intussusception is most common in
children and rarely affects adults. In children, the cause is usually not
known. In adults, it is usually related to another intestinal problem, such as
a growth of tissue in the wall of the intestines (such as a
polyp or tumor).
In severe cases of rectal prolapse, a section of the
large intestine drops from its normal position as the tissues that hold it in
place stretch. Typically there is a sharp bend where the rectum begins. With
rectal prolapse, this bend and other curves in the rectum may straighten,
making it difficult to keep stool from leaking out (fecal incontinence).
Rectal prolapse is most common in children
and older adults, especially women.
What causes rectal prolapse?
increase the chance of developing rectal prolapse. Risk factors for children
- Cystic fibrosis. A child who has rectal prolapse with no obvious cause may need
to be tested for cystic fibrosis.
- Having had surgery on the anus as an infant.
- Deformities or physical development
- Straining during bowel
Risk factors for adults include:
- Straining during bowel movements because of
- Tissue damage caused by surgery or
- Weakness of pelvic floor muscles that occurs naturally with
What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms of
rectal prolapse may be:
- Leakage of stool from the anus (fecal
- Leakage of mucus or blood from the anus (wet anus).
Other symptoms of rectal prolapse include:
- A feeling of having full bowels and an urgent
need to have a bowel movement.
- Passage of many very small
- The feeling of not being able to empty the bowels
- Anal pain, itching, irritation, and
- Bright red tissue that sticks out of the anus.
See a doctor
if you or your child has symptoms of
rectal prolapse. If it is not treated, you may have more problems. For example, the leaking stool could get worse, or the rectum could be damaged.