Rectal prolapse refers to the medical condition wherein the rectum becomes stretched out and protrudes out of the anus, leading to weakness of the anal sphincter muscle and leakage of stool or mucus. This condition is exhibited more often with women than with men, and can be caused by a number of factors, including: chronic straining to have bowel movements, the childbirth process, genetics, aging, generalized pelvic floor dysfunction, or neurological problems (i.e. spinal cord transection or spinal cord disease).
In order to diagnose rectal prolapse, a complete anorectal examination will be performed, and, if necessary, a videodefecogram or anorectal manometry may be utilized to assess whether the muscles around the rectum are functioning properly during a bowel movement. Rectal or abdominal surgery is the primary course of treatment for patients suffering from rectal prolapse, and most patients experience successful resolution of their rectal prolapse symptoms after this type of surgery.
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RECTOCELE (POSTERIOR PROLAPSE)
A rectocele (posterior prolapse) occurs when the thin wall of fibrous tissue (fascia) separating the rectum from the vagina weakens, and the front wall of the rectum presses or ‘bulges’ into the back wall of the vagina. A rectocele can develop when the tissue between the rectum and vagina (rectovaginal septum) begins to thin and the pelvic floor muscles weaken. The following factors can contribute to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles: vaginal deliveries, birthing trauma during vaginal delivery (i.e. vacuum delivery, forceps delivery, tearing with vaginal delivery), chronic constipation, history of gynecological (hysterectomy) or rectal surgeries, and chronic straining to have bowel movements.
Patients with a small rectocele are often asymptomatic, whereas patients with a large rectocele will generally present with one or more of the following symptoms: a noticeable bulge into the vagina, constipation, straining during bowel movements, rectal pain, vaginal bleeding, pain during vaginal intercourse, or a sense of fullness in the vagina. A rectocele can be discovered and diagnosed during a routine physical examination; however, a defecography is often required in order to more comprehensively assess its size and severity.
It is only necessary to treat a rectocele when it is interfering with a patient’s quality of life, and the majority of rectocele cases can be resolved with medical management techniques, such as: increasing one’s daily fiber and water intake, pelvic floor exercises, biofeedback exercises, hormone replacement therapy, and stool softeners. When medical management techniques have failed to alleviate the patient’s symptoms, abdominal, vaginal, or rectal surgery may be performed to remove the excess tissue of the rectocele and to strengthen the wall between the vagina and rectum.
For additional information, please use the following link: Rectocele
At Pinnacle Colon and Rectal Surgeons, Dr. Ann L. Kalhorn and Dr. Eugene M. Kim are well respected and board certified colon and rectal surgeons. They have received specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions pertaining to the colon, rectum and anus. We work collaboratively with you to ease painful symptoms and ensure the safe and successful resolution of your colorectal issues. If you would like additional information about treatment, please contact our office today. We look forward to speaking with you and to scheduling your consultation with Dr. Kalhorn or Dr. Kim.