What is rectal prolapse?

Rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum (the last part of the large intestine) drops and the inner part comes out. Initially, the rectum remains inside the body but, as the condition worsens, it may protrude from the anus. At the same time, there is often a weakness of the muscles of the anus, which can lead to leakage of mucus or feces.

Rectal prolapse involves the abnormal protrusion of the rectal mucosa through the anus. In part, the diagnosis overlaps with that of chronic prolapse of hemorrhoids, especially if part of the prolapse is hemorrhoids and part of the tissue is of the rectal mucosa. If the protrusion of the rectal mucosa is only partial, then this is called partial mucosal prolapse.

There are two types of rectal prolapse: 1) Partial, which involves only the rectal mucosa, and 2) Complete, which involves both the rectal mucosa and the walls of the rectum, also called complete prolapse.

Total rectal prolapse is a condition in which the rectum literally protrudes and can extend up to ten centimeters beyond the anus. It is still a controversial issue whether weakness of the muscles of the pelvic region and the anal canal are the cause or the result of this condition. One possible etiology is a hernia of the cul-de-sac, a displacement of the rectum from its usual protected position in the hollow of the sanctuary. (In horses, complete prolapse is a natural phenomenon that occurs during each defecation, but this is not true in humans).