Prolapse

Definition This is when the lining to the lower part of the rectum and anal canal including enlarged anal cushions or ‘piles’ slide down through the anal canal and become visible - usually after having a bowel action but also after straining for other reasons such as lifting a heavy weight. It is often necessary to have to push them back.

Cause It occurs because the anal cushions and lining to the lower rectum loose their attachments to the underlying muscles and slide down through the anal canal like trousers slipping off a coat hanger!

Treatment Sometimes the problem can be controlled with injections and banding but if that doesn't work then it can be treated by surgical means. Although this can be painful, in the long term it is usually a very successful operation.

In older people just the lining of the lower part of the rectum slides out in a similar way to 'piles' and it is then more usual to call it ‘mucosal prolapse’.

Less commonly the complete thickness of the rectal wall becomes everted to varying lengths and it is then called ‘Full thickness Rectal Prolapse’.  When this causes sufficient problems it usually requires surgical treatment.

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