Health Risks of Rectal Prolapse Surgery

Rectal prolapse causes alarm, fear and embarrassment. You may feel uncomfortable talking about your symptoms. Or, symptoms such as uncontrollable flatulence and fecal incontinence make your daily life miserable.

Fortunately, patients diagnosed with rectal prolapse typically have time to stave off drastic treatment with a regimen of exercises, diet and medication. But the condition is progressive and eventually requires surgery. When a rectal prolapse reaches a severity that requires surgical intervention, Coyle Institute offers a minimally invasive option.

What is Rectal Prolapse?

The rectum is the section of the digestive tract between the large intestine and the anus.
Rectal prolapse is when the rectum loses its attachments to structures inside the body. The rectum telescopes, or turns inside out, and protrudes from the anus. In its early stages, it may appear as a red bulge coming out of the anus during or after bowel movements.

Rectal prolapse can involve the entire rectum or just a portion of it. In some cases, the rectum collapses inside the body but does not protrude from the anus, causing an internal prolapse.
While rectal prolapse is alarming and uncomfortable, it is usually not a cause for panic.

Who is at Risk for Rectal Prolapse?

Rectal prolapse is when the rectum, the section of the digestive tract between the large intestine and the anus, protrudes from the anus. This occurs when the rectum becomes detached from the internal pelvic structures that hold it in place. The rectum then turns inside out and slips through the anal sphincter. In most cases, patients can see or feel the rectum protruding from the anus, typically during or following a bowel movement. It can be distressing, but in early stages is not a threat to your life or overall health.

Who can be Affected by this Condition?

Rectal prolapse affects about 2.5 of every 100,000 people. Women age 50 and older are six times more likely than men to develop rectal prolapse. A weakened pelvic floor and chronic constipation also increase the risk of rectal prolapse.

When the rectum is prolapsed and does not retract, it feels as though you are sitting on a ball. Other symptoms include anal pain, rectal pain, fecal incontinence, constipation, leaking mucus and bleeding.

Surgery for Rectal Prolapse

The most common surgical solution for rectal prolapse is rectopexy. The principal goals of a rectopexy procedure are to restore normal anatomy and to reestablish normal defecatory and sexual function.

A rectopexy frees the prolapsed rectum from surrounding tissues, then uses stitches to secure it into position. The surgeon may use mesh to support and secure the rectum.

Traditional rectopexy requires an incision in the abdomen. In more recent years, laparoscopic surgery, using small incisions and a camera, has become a popular option. Rectal prolapse surgery can also be performed by entering through the perineum, or the area around the anus. The dissection in the rectopexy procedure can cause secondary autonomic nerve damage.

What are the Risks of Traditional Rectal Prolapse Surgery (Rectopexy)?

As with any major surgery, there are risks involved in the procedure and recovery from a rectopexy.

Some of these risks include:

  • Infection
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Prolapse recurrence
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Damage to organs, tissues or nerves
  • Risk of fistula

A Better Surgical Treatment for Rectal Prolapse

At Coyle Institute, we are pioneering minimally invasive surgical options for treating rectal prolapse. We now offer a procedure called Minimally Invasive (DaVinci Assisted) Ventral Rectopexy.

The procedure attaches the central pelvic ligament to the rectum and the anterior longitudinal ligament of the sacrum using mesh. The surgeon uses the DaVinci system to perform the intricate procedures needed inside the body. Minimally invasive Ventral Rectopexy requires only a few small incisions, which heal more quickly and easily than traditional surgery.

Research has shown positive outcomes following robotic ventral rectopexy to treat rectal prolapse. The procedure limits complications during surgery, hemorrhaging and infection. Patients report improvements in constipation and fecal incontinence. Studies have also shown a lower rate of recurrence with robotic-assisted rectopexy. Additionally, reports show that the robotic approach is safe and feasible for rectal prolapse.

What are the Risks of Traditional Rectal Prolapse Surgery (Rectopexy)?

The Coyle Institute is a urogynecology practice. We focus on all pelvic organs and how they function together. A urogynecologist has the unique expertise to treat rectal prolapse as it relates to all other pelvic structures. If you have symptoms of rectal prolapse, schedule your consultation with our expert team. Together we’ll find the best treatment option for your rectal prolapse symptoms.