The rectum is the end section of the large intestine. A rectal prolapse is when the rectum stretches and falls through the anus. Early treatment can improve outcomes.
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This problem is caused by weak muscles and ligaments. These structures hold the rectum in place.
This problem is more common in children who are 1 to 3 years of age. It is also more common in older adults.
Things that may raise the risk in children are:
Things that may raise the risk in adults are:
Symptoms may be:
The doctor will ask about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the anus and rectum.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
An anorectal manometry may also be done. This can measure the strength of the anal muscles, feeling in the rectum, and the reflexes needed to pass stool.
Prolapse in children tends to go away on its own. In adults, gentle pressure to the rectum can sometimes push it back into place.
The goal of treatment is to put the tissue back into place. Options are:
Certain medicines may help to ease pain and straining when passing stool. Stool softeners and bulk agents.
Some people may need surgery. Options are:
To lower the risk of this problem:
American Gastroenterological Association
American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons
Bad Gut—Canadian Society of Intestinal Research
Constipation in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/constipation-in-adults. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Constipation in children. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/constipation-in-children. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Rectal prolapse. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/rectal-prolapse. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Rectal prolapse and procidentia. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/gastrointestinal-disorders/anorectal-disorders/rectal-prolapse-and-procidentia. Accessed August 20, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by
EBSCO Medical Review Board
James Cornell, MD
Last Updated: 8/20/2021