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What is rectal prolapse?
Rectal prolapse is a condition often misdiagnosed as hemoirrhoids. As a result of usually weakened pelvic floor muscles and chronic constipation, the rectum protrudes out of the anal canal leading to pain, bleeding, and leakage of stool or mucus. The condition occurs in both sexes, although it is more common in women than men.

How is rectal prolapse diagnosed?
To diagnose the prolapse, patients are asked to "strain" on a commode as if having a bowel movement prior to examination. Alternatively a rectal prolapse may be diagnosed with an x-ray examination called a videodefecogram. Patients with rectal prolapse may also have a silent colon cancer present and a colonoscopy is recommended prior to treatment of the prolapse.

How is rectal prolapse treated?
Rectal prolapse is best treated surgically. There are a variety of surgical operations which are tailored to the patient depending on his or her age, physical condition, extent of prolapse and symptoms. Laparoscopic resection of the prolapse is one of the most effective ways of treating this disease. For elderly patients or those not medically fit, resection of the prolapse through the anal canal (Altmeier procedure) avoids an abdominal operation and decreases hospital stay to only one night in most cases.

References: Blumberg D and Wald A. Other Diseases of the Colon and Rectum. In Schlesinger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease 7th Ed. 2002; 2294-2311.

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