Rectal prolapse is a common condition affecting both men and women of all ages. This can be caused by weakness in the muscles and tissues that support the rectum, often as a result of ageing or previous pelvic surgery. Other contributing factors include chronic constipation, diarrhoea and straining during bowel movements. Overall, there are several effective treatment options available for rectal prolapse. With proper diagnosis and management, patients can achieve an improved quality of life and reduce the risk of complications associated with this condition.
In this condition, the rectum protrudes outside the anus. This happens when the rectal muscles and tissues weaken, causing the rectum to fall out of its normal position. It can be a partial or complete prolapse, with symptoms ranging from minor discomfort to severe pain and bleeding.
Causes of rectal prolapse
A variety of factors can cause rectal prolapse. The most common cause includes:
- Weakened pelvic muscles, which can be due to ageing
- Chronic constipation
Other causes include nerve damage, chronic diarrhoea, and prior surgery in the pelvic region.
Symptoms of rectal prolapse
The main symptom of rectal prolapse is a protrusion of the rectum through the anus. This can be a partial or complete prolapse. Other symptoms may include:
- Feeling extreme pain
- Difficulty with bowel movements
- Faecal incontinence (Inability to control bowel movements)
How is rectal prolapse diagnosed?
The diagnosis of rectal prolapse is made based on a physical exam and medical history.
Digital rectal exam – The doctor may perform a digital rectal exam to check for any abnormalities in the anus and rectum.
Other tests – A diagnostic test, such as an anoscopy, sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy, may also be performed to confirm the diagnosis and evaluate the extent of the prolapse.
These tests enable the doctor to view the rectum and colon with a camera.
In some cases, additional imaging tests like MRI or CT scans may be recommended to identify underlying causes of rectal prolapse, like nerve damage or muscle weakness. It’s essential to seek medical attention if the person experiences symptoms of rectal prolapse, as early treatment can prevent complications like tissue damage, infections, and faecal incontinence.
Treatment options for rectal prolapse
Several treatment options are available for rectal prolapse, ranging from non-surgical to surgical interventions. It depends on the severity of the prolapse.
Mild cases may be treated with non-surgical options, including stool softeners, dietary changes, and pelvic floor exercises.
Lifestyle changes – It is also crucial for patients to make lifestyle changes, such as maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding heavy lifting or straining during bowel movements, to prevent the recurrence of rectal prolapse. Patients should also seek regular follow-up care with their healthcare provider to monitor their condition and address any concerns or symptoms.
Moderate to severe cases may require surgical intervention, such as a rectopexy or a perineal approach.
In recent years, laparoscopic surgery has become an increasingly popular option due to its minimally invasive nature and quicker recovery times. However, not all patients may be suitable candidates for this type of surgery.
Patients with rectal prolapse must seek medical attention as soon as possible to determine the most appropriate course of treatment for their specific case.
Complications associated with rectal prolapse
Rectal prolapse can lead to complications such as
- Faecal incontinence
- Chronic constipation
- Rectal ulceration
These complications can be avoided with prompt treatment.
When to Consult a Doctor
You can also get in touch with the expert Gastroenterology doctors at Narayana Healthcare based in your city to get immediate attention and medical support during injuries, health disorders or any other health concern.
Rectal prolapse can be challenging to manage; several treatment options can improve a patient’s quality of life. With proper diagnosis, management, and follow-up care, patients can achieve successful outcomes and minimise the risk of complications or recurrence. Patients need to work closely with their healthcare provider to determine the most appropriate course of treatment based on their individual needs and preferences.
Q. What is rectal prolapse?
A. Rectal prolapse is a condition where the rectum protrudes from the anus. This can be caused by weakened pelvic muscles, nerve damage, chronic diarrhoea, or prior surgery in the pelvic region.
Q. What causes rectal prolapse?
A. Rectal prolapse is mainly caused by weakened pelvic muscles, which can be due to ageing, childbirth, or chronic constipation.
Q. What are the common symptoms of rectal prolapse?
A. The common symptoms include discomfort, pain, bleeding, and difficulty with bowel movements.
Q. How is rectal prolapse diagnosed?
A. A doctor can diagnose rectal prolapse through a physical exam and medical history. In some cases, additional tests, such as a colonoscopy or a defecography, may be necessary.
Q. What is the treatment for rectal prolapse?
A. The treatment options vary depending on the severity of the prolapse but may include surgery or non-surgical interventions such as pelvic floor exercises and bowel management techniques.