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Rectal Prolapse - Topic Overview

How is rectal prolapse diagnosed?

Your doctor will diagnose rectal prolapse by asking you questions about your symptoms and past medical problems and surgeries. He or she will also do a physical exam, which includes checking the rectum for loose tissue and to find out how strongly the anal sphincter contracts.

You may need tests to rule out other conditions. For example, you may need a sigmoidoscopy, a colonoscopy, or a barium enema to look for tumors, sores (ulcers), or abnormally narrow areas in the large intestine. Or a child may need a sweat test to check for cystic fibrosis if prolapse has occurred more than once or the cause is not clear.

How is it treated?

Prolapse in children tends to go away on its own. You can help keep the prolapse from coming back. If you can, push the prolapse into place as soon as it occurs. You can also have your child use a potty-training toilet so that he or she does not strain while having a bowel movement.

Sometimes children need treatment. For example, if the prolapse doesn't go away on its own, an injection of medicine into the rectum may help. If the prolapse was caused by another condition, the child may need treatment for that condition.

Home treatment for adults may help treat the prolapse and may be tried before other types of treatments.

  • If your doctor says it's okay, you can push the prolapse into place.
  • Avoid constipation. Drink plenty of water, and eat fruits, vegetables, and other foods that contain fiber. Changes in diet often are enough to improve or reverse a prolapse of the lining of the rectum (partial prolapse).
  • Do Kegel exercises to help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic area.
  • Don't strain while having a bowel movement. Use a stool softener if you need to.

People who have a complete prolapse or who have a partial prolapse that doesn't improve with a change in diet will need surgery. Surgery involves attaching the rectum to the muscles of the pelvic floor or the lower end of the spine (sacrum). Or surgery might involve removing a section of the large intestine that is no longer supported by the surrounding tissue. Both procedures may be done in the same surgery.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 15, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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