WHAT IS RECTAL PROLAPSE?
Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum (the last part of the large intestine before it exits the anus) loses its normal attachments inside the body, allowing it to telescope out through the anus, thereby turning it “inside out”. While this may be uncomfortable, it rarely results in an emergent medical problem. However, it can be quite embarrassing and often has a significant negative impact on patients’ quality of life.
Although an operation is not always needed, the definitive treatment of rectal prolapse requires surgery.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF RECTAL PROLAPSE?
There are three types of rectal prolapse:
- Full-thickness: The full thickness of the wall of the rectum sticks out through the anus. This is the most common type of rectal prolapse. There can be a partial or complete protrusion.
- Mucosal: Only the lining of the anus (known as the mucosa) sticks out through the anus.
- Internal: The rectum folds in on itself but does not stick out through the anus.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF RECTAL PROLAPSE?
Rectal prolapse may be internal or external.
There is a range of risk factors and causes associated with rectal prolapse, although doctors do not fully understand why some people get it.
It can be triggered by a variety of things including:
- constipation or chronic straining
- diarrhea— present in around 15 percent of people
- conditions that make a person cough a lot
There are also some neurological conditions that affect the nerves associated with rectal prolapse:
- multiple sclerosis
- lumbar disc disease
- spinal tumors
- injury to the lower back or pelvis
Rectal prolapse is more common in adults than children, and it is particularly prevalent in women aged 50 years or older, who are six times more likely to be affected than men.
Most women who have rectal prolapse are in their 60s, while most men are aged 40 or younger.
In the case of older women, rectal prolapse will often occur at the same time as a prolapsed uterus or bladder. This is because of general weakness in the pelvic floor muscles.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND COMPLICATIONS?
A prolapsed rectum may cause a number of symptoms, including constipation and bleeding from the rectum.
At first, the person might only notice a lump or swelling coming out of their anus when they have a bowel movement.
Initially, the person may be able to push the rectal prolapse back in. Over time, however, the prolapse is likely to protrude permanently, and a person will be unable to push the prolapse back.
As time goes on, a rectal prolapse may happen when a person coughs, sneezes, or stands up. Some people with a rectal prolapse have described it as like “sitting on a ball.”
Some people may experience an internal rectal prolapse, which is different in that the prolapse will not protrude. However, the person may feel as if they have not passed everything during a bowel movement.
Other symptoms of a rectal prolapse include:
- difficulty controlling bowel movements, which occurs in around 50 to 75 percentof cases
- bright red blood coming out of the rectum
HOW CAN WE DIAGNOSE RECTAL PROLAPSE?
In order to diagnose a rectal prolapse, the doctor will look at the person’s medical history, ask them about their symptoms, and conduct a physical examination.
A physical examination will involve the doctor inserting a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum. While this can be uncomfortable and possibly embarrassing, it should not be painful and is very important for an accurate diagnosis.
SIMPLE REMEDIES FOR RECTAL PROLAPSE
If constipation cannot be treated, surgery may be recommended for treating the rectal prolapse.
In the first instance, it is important to treat constipation. This might be achieved by eating plenty of foods that are high in fiber, such as fruit, vegetables, and whole-grains.
Bulking laxatives, which help a person have a bowel movement without straining, may also be recommended, as well as drinking plenty of water.
WHEN TO SEE US AT ADEBAYO LIVING TOWER HOSPITAL?
Although a rectal prolapse is not often defined as an emergency medical problem, it can be uncomfortable, embarrassing, and have a significant adverse effect on the person’s mental and physical life.
Therefore it is essential for anyone who has noticed any signs or symptoms of rectal prolapse to see a doctor as soon as possible.
The longer a person puts off receiving treatment for rectal prolapse the greater chance of permanent problems, such as incontinence and nerve damage.