Rectal prolapse occurs when part or your entire rectum (last part of your colon where stool is stored) falls out of your anus (back passage).
Prolapse can happen to young children but it is most often seen in older patients who may have a history of constipation.
Symptoms of rectal prolapse are tissue coming out of your anal passage after a bowel movement. The tissue may bleed slightly or be uncomfortable. You may also experience leaking from your bowels and constipation. In the first stages the prolapse may retract back into your anus by itself. Later the prolapse may remain exposed and need to be manually pushed back into place.
How is rectal prolapse treated?
In some cases, treatment of the underlying problem causing the prolapse (i.e. constipation) may resolve the prolapse. Your consultant may recommend changes in your diet along with laxatives, stool softeners or bulking agents to ease constipation.If conservative methods to treat your rectal prolapse are not successful your consultant may recommend rectal prolapse repair.
What happens during rectal prolapse repair?
Rectal prolapse repair is usually done under general anaesthetic. There are several techniques for this procedure. Your surgeon will chose the best method based on your own situation.
- Open surgery through your abdomen (called a rectopexy). Your surgeon will pull your rectum back into your body and attach it to the bony area above your tailbone just below your spine (your sacrum). Sometimes surgical mesh is used to further support your rectum. A portion of your colon may also be removed. Your wound will be closed with stitches or staples.
- Laparoscopic (keyhole) rectopexy using several small incisions in your abdomen to perform the same procedure as in open surgery. Your wounds will be closed with stitches or staples.
- Perianal approach accesses the prolapse through the area around your anus. Several procedure may be used including removing a portion of your rectum and attaching it to your colon or removing the rectal lining and shortening your rectum. Perianal procedures result in internal wounds that will not be visible. You may have bruising in the area around your anus.
After your operation you will be taken to a recovery area. Our staff will monitor you and give you medication for pain relief. You may have a catheter in your bladder to help you pass urine. This is usually removed the day after your surgery.
Going home after rectal prolapse repair
Your length of stay in hospital will depend on what surgical method your surgeon used. You will not be able to drive so please arrange for someone to drive you home on your day of discharge.
At home follow dietary advice and restrictions and continue to take any medication prescribed. To prevent a recurrence of the prolapse it is important to avoid straining while moving your bowels.
Most people return to normal daily activities after 4-6 weeks. Avoid any strenuous activity or heavy lifting for 6 weeks. Discuss any return to work with your consultant.Most people make a good recovery from rectal prolapse repair. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications including:
- Blood clots (deep vein thrombosis – DVT)
Specific complications of rectal prolapse repair may include:
- Bowel obstruction
- Bowel incontinence
- Damage to organs or nerves in the area
- Failure of any joining made during the procedure
- Recurrence of prolapse
- Changes to bowel habits (diarrhoea or increased constipation)
Why not print this treatment page so you can discuss any concerns you have with your consultant?
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