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Rectal Prolapse

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Rectal prolapse occurs when part of the rectum becomes stretched and protrudes from the anus.

There are three types of rectal prolapse:

  • Partial prolapse occurs when the lining (mucous membrane) of the rectum slides out of place, typically when you strain to have a bowel movement.
  • Complete prolapse occurs when the wall of the rectum slides out of place protrudes from of the anus.
  • Internal prolapse is also called intussusception. This occurs when one part of the wall of the large intestine or rectum slides into or over another part. In adults, intussusception is usually related to another intestinal problem, such as a polyp or tumor.


The main symptom of rectal prolapse is a reddish-colored mass protruding from the opening of the anus, especially following a bowel movement.

Other symptoms include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Leakage of stool or mucus
  • A feeling of having full bowels and an urgent need to have a bowel movement.
  • Passage of many very small stools.
  • The feeling of not being able to empty the bowels completely.
  • Anal pain, itching, or irritation

Causes and Risk Factors

Rectal prolapse may develop for many reasons. For some people, minor rectal prolapse occurs occasionally when they strain to have a bowel movement and may go away on its own. Other factors may also contribute to rectal prolapse:

  • A lifelong habit of straining to have bowel movement
  • Trauma to the pelvic floor muscles
  • A progression of the aging process
  • Constipation
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Neurological problems
  • Malnutrition and malabsorption due to other diseases or conditions
  • Parasite infection
  • Prior injury to the anus or pelvic area

Diagnostic Tests

Your doctor can often diagnose rectal prolapse with a careful history and a complete physical exam.

Internal prolapse may require additional tests such as anorectal manometry to evaluate the function of the muscles around the rectum.

Treatment and Procedures

Rectal prolapse may be prevented by eating a high-fiber diet, drinking plenty of liquids, and taking laxatives, stool softeners and stool-bulking agents.

However, correcting these problems may not improve the prolapse once it has developed. Your doctor may recommend surgery to repair the rectal prolapse.

Your health is our greatest concern. Please contact the Center for Colon & Rectal Surgery at 407.303.2615for a private consultation today.