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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.

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 surgery. There are several techniques rectal prolapse repair. Your surgeon will chose the best method based on your own situation.

Rectal prolapse repair done through one incision or several smaller laparoscopic incisions in your abdomen is called a rectopexy.

What happens during a rectopexy?

A rectopexy is usually done under general anaesthetic.

If your surgeon is performing open surgery they will make an incision (cut) in your abdomen.  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 uses several small incisions in your abdomen to perform the same procedure as in open surgery. Your wounds will be closed with stitches or staples.

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 rectopexy

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 rectopexy. As with any surgical procedure there could be complications including:

Specific complications of rectopexy 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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