Rectal Prolapse

Rectal prolapse is most common in children and older adults, especially women. Symptoms range from:
  • Leakage of mucus and blood from the anus
  • A feeling of having full bowels and an urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Passage of many very small stools
  • The feeling of not being able to empty the bowels completely
  • Anal pain, itching, irritation, and bleeding
  • Bright red tissue that sticks out of the anus
Rectal prolapse occurs when part or the entire rectal wall slides out of place, sometimes sticking out of the anus. There are three types of rectal prolapse:
  • Partial prolapse (also called mucosal prolapse). The lining (mucous membrane) of the rectum slides out of place and usually sticks out of the anus. This can happen when you strain to have a bowel movement. Partial prolapse is most common in children younger than 2 years.
  • Complete prolapse. The entire wall of the rectum slides out of place and usually sticks out of the anus. At first, this may occur only during bowel movements. Eventually, it may occur when you stand or walk. And in some cases, the prolapsed tissue may remain outside your body all the time.
  • Internal prolapse (intussusception). One part of the wall of the large intestine (colon) or rectum may slide into or over another part, like the folding parts of a toy telescope. The rectum does not stick out of the anus. Intussusception is most common in children and rarely affects adults. In children, the cause is usually not known. In adults, it is usually related to another intestinal problem, such as a growth of tissue in the wall of the intestines (such as a polyp or tumor).
In severe cases of rectal prolapse, a section of the large intestine drops from its normal position as the tissues that hold it in place stretch. Typically there is a sharp bend where the rectum begins. With rectal prolapse, this bend and other curves in the rectum may straighten, making it difficult to keep stool from leaking out, which is known as fecal incontinence.