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Rectal Prolapse

Rectal Prolapse is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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  • Full-thickness evagination of the rectal wall outside the anal opening
  • 3 types of rectal prolapse:
    • Full-thickness prolapse:
      • Protrusion of the rectal wall through the anal canal; the most common
    • Partial thickness or mucosal prolapse:
      • Only mucosal layer protrudes through anus
    • Occult (internal) prolapse or rectal intussusception:
      • Rectal wall prolapse without protrusion through the anus
      • May be difficult to diagnose


  • Cause unclear and multifactorial:
    • Chronic constipation/excessive straining
    • Laxity of sphincter:
      • Pelvic floor trauma/weakness; childbearing
      • Neurologic disease
  • More common in women, peak in 7th decade

Pediatric Considerations
  • Very rare after age 4 yr
  • True rectal prolapse unusual in children; more likely partial or intussusception
  • Consider chronic diarrhea, parasites, cystic fibrosis (CF), malnutrition as contributing causes

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Rosen, Peter, et al., editors. "Rectal Prolapse." 5-Minute Emergency Consult, 5th ed., Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2016. Emergency Central, emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307575/all/Rectal_Prolapse.
Rectal Prolapse. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, et al, eds. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. 5th ed. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307575/all/Rectal_Prolapse. Accessed April 25, 2019.
Rectal Prolapse. (2016). In Rosen, P., Shayne, P., Barkin, A. Z., Wolfe, R. E., Hayden, S. R., Barkin, R. M., & Schaider, J. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Available from https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307575/all/Rectal_Prolapse
Rectal Prolapse [Internet]. In: Rosen P, Shayne P, Barkin AZ, Wolfe RE, Hayden SR, Barkin RM, Schaider JJ, editors. 5-Minute Emergency Consult. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2016. [cited 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307575/all/Rectal_Prolapse.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Rectal Prolapse ID - 307575 ED - Rosen,Peter, ED - Shayne,Philip, ED - Barkin,Adam Z, ED - Wolfe,Richard E, ED - Hayden,Stephen R, ED - Barkin,Roger M, ED - Schaider,Jeffrey J, BT - 5-Minute Emergency Consult UR - https://emergency.unboundmedicine.com/emergency/view/5-Minute_Emergency_Consult/307575/all/Rectal_Prolapse PB - Lippincott Williams & Wilkins ET - 5 DB - Emergency Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -