Skip to Main Content


  • • Group of diseases in which the attachment of the rectum to the sacrum has lengthened, allowing the rectum to block the act of defecation, to protrude into the vagina, or to prolapse through the anus

    • Increased mobility related to chronic straining

    • May be secondary to colonic dysmotility

    • Includes internal intussusception, rectal prolapse




  • • Cause of rectal prolapse poorly understood; considered a form of intussusception

    • High incidence of rectal prolapse noted in patients affected by mental retardation

    • Female:male ratio is 5:1

    • 50% of patients with rectal prolapse are male or nulliparous women


Symptoms and Signs


  • Internal intussusception: Sense of rectal fullness, urge to defecate, mass

    • -Mass may be ulcerated, located anterior, 4-12 cm from the anal verge

    Rectal prolapse: Rectal bleeding, mucus discharge, tenesmus, incontinence, pain, feeling of incomplete evacuation

    • -Large external mass of prolapse tissue with concentric mucosal rings

    • Rectal exam may reveal decreased or absent sphincter tone


Laboratory Findings


  • • Histologic exam reveals diffuse submucosal cysts with a characteristic fibrosis pattern distinguishing it from colorectal malignancy

    • Anal manometry may reveal diminished luminal pressure


Imaging Findings


  • • Sigmoidoscopy may reveal the circumferential intussusceptum or an ulcerated mass that appears malignant

    • Defecography may demonstrate rectal prolapse or intussusception

    • Evaluation of the entire colon with colonoscopy is necessary to rule out a malignancy


  • • Anorectal malignancy

    • Hemorrhoids (prolapsed)


Rule Out


  • • Colorectal malignancy


  • • Patients with internal intussusception and rectal prolapse need anorectal manometry, pudendal nerve latency studies, defecography, and barium enema or colonoscopy

    • Defecography will show the intussusception or prolapse and may reveal the cause

    • Evaluation of the entire colon with either barium enema or colonoscopy is necessary to rule out a malignancy

    • For patients without active prolapse, it may be necessary to give an enema, allow the patient to defecate, and then examine the perineum

    • -This often induces a prolapse, allowing the diagnosis to be made in the office


  • • Mild to moderate intussusception is treated with bulk agents, modification of bowel habits, and reassurance

    • The patient is instructed to stimulate a bowel movement in the morning and avoid the urge to defecate the remainder of the day because the fullness they sense is the proximal rectum intussuscepting into the distal rectum

    • -With time, the urge to defecate resolves and so does the intussusception




  • • Two classes of operations for rectal prolapse: abdominal and perineal

    • -Abdominal procedures have a lower recurrence rate and preserve the reservoir capacity of the rectum but carry more risk

      -Perineal procedures avoid an intra-abdominal anastomosis but remove the rectum, eliminate the rectal reservoir, and have higher recurrence rates

      -The abdominal procedures are generally preferred in low-risk active patients under age 50 ...

Want remote access to your institution's subscription?

Sign in to your MyAccess profile while you are actively authenticated on this site via your institution (you will be able to verify this by looking at the top right corner of the screen - if you see your institution's name, you are authenticated). Once logged in to your MyAccess profile, you will be able to access your institution's subscription for 90 days from any location. You must be logged in while authenticated at least once every 90 days to maintain this remote access.


About MyAccess

If your institution subscribes to this resource, and you don't have a MyAccess profile, please contact your library's reference desk for information on how to gain access to this resource from off-campus.

Subscription Options

AccessSurgery Full Site: One-Year Subscription

Connect to the full suite of AccessSurgery content and resources including more than 160 instructional videos, 16,000+ high-quality images, interactive board review, 20+ textbooks, and more.

$995 USD
Buy Now

Pay Per View: Timed Access to all of AccessSurgery

24 Hour Subscription $34.95

Buy Now

48 Hour Subscription $54.95

Buy Now

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.