What are the symptoms of rectal prolapse?

When we have a complete rectal prolapse, the walls of the rectum protrude and invert, forming concentric rings (complete prolapse), whereas if we have an partial prolapse, only the rectal mucosa protrudes.

Initially, rectal prolapse can only occur during defecation. Later, however, it may also occur during sneezing or coughing, or occur during any physical effort or exercise. Also, loss of mucus, bleeding or even fecal incontinence may often occur. There have been reports of patients, albeit few, who have developed gangrene from this condition.

How is the diagnosis made by the specialist doctor?

Rectal prolapse should be differentiated from large prolapsed hemorrhoids, polyps or tumors. It is also important to distinguish between partial mucosal prolapse and complete prolapse. To ascertain prolapse, the patient may be asked either to make an effort, as when defecating, or to sit on the pelvis and make the same movement before the examination.

In children with unexplained rectal prolapse, the possibility of cystic fibrosis should be investigated. Diagnostic studies include examination of the rectum, sigmoidoscopy and possibly barium enema. Anorectal Manometry, a test that measures the strength of the muscles of the anus, may also be used.