Minimally Invasive Ventral Rectopexy:
A Better Way to Treat Rectal Prolapse

A rectal prolapse diagnosis can seem scary and the requirement of surgery for rectal prolapse can be terrifying. In its early stages, rectal prolapse is treatable through diet, exercise and a change in bathroom habits. However, the condition typically progresses over time and eventually requires surgery. What once was a major abdominal surgery with a roster of risks, can now be done with minimally invasive techniques.

Rectal Prolapse: Signs and Symptoms

When the rectum loses its attachments to structures inside the body, it can telescope and protrude from the anus. A prolapse typically occurs because of the ongoing strain and pressure caused by chronic constipation. Because of this, the prolapsed rectum may appear as a red bulge coming out of the anus during or after bowel movements.

When the rectum is prolapsed and does not retract back into the body, it can feel like you are sitting on a ball. Anal pain, rectal pain, fecal incontinence, constipation, leaking mucus and rectal bleeding are all symptoms associated with rectal prolapse.

Rectal prolapse is not extremely common. However, it is a major problem for women. Once a prolapse occurs, constipation can worsen, and the prolapse can cause pain. Because of fear to exert pressure on the pelvic organs, women may find it difficult to fully empty their bladder, which can lead to other health complications.

Rectal Prolapse Risks

Women face unique risks when it comes to rectal prolapse. While the condition affects only about 2.5 of every 100,000 people, women over the age of 50 experience rectal prolapse at a rate that is six times higher than men.

Constipation is one of the leading contributors to rectal prolapse. The pressure of straining during a bowel movement pushes the rectum through the anus.

Pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor, increasing the risk of rectal prolapse. A weakened pelvic floor can also lead to a rectocele, a condition in which the front wall of the rectum bulges into the back wall of the vagina. Rectocele can ultimately contribute to constipation and increase the risk of rectal prolapse.

Treating Rectal Prolapse

In the early stages of rectal prolapse, a change in diet and the use of over-the-counter medications may be enough to ease symptoms such as constipation and gas.

Surgical treatment includes perineal, abdominal and minimally invasive options.

Coyle Institute is one of only a few facilities in northwest Florida offering a minimally invasive approach called a ventral rectopexy. Our DaVinci robotics-assisted ventral rectopexy requires only a few small incisions, which shortens recovery and lowers the risk of infection.

Minimally invasive ventral rectopexy is a newer technique. It is widely recognized as one of the safest and most effective treatments for rectal prolapse. During surgery, the central pelvic ligament to the rectum is attached to the anterior longitudinal ligament of the sacrum (base of the spine) using mesh. This attachment supports and secures the rectum in its correct position.

Benefits of Minimally Invasive Ventral Rectopexy

Minimally invasive ventral rectopexy has shown long-term effectiveness with a low rate of recurrence and fewer postoperative complications. Additionally, damage and healing of surrounding tissues is minimized.

Minimally invasive ventral rectopexy lowers the risk of complications associated with traditional rectal prolapse surgery, including:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Prolapse recurrence
  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Risk of fistula

Rectal prolapse will not go away on its own. As the prolapse progresses, the rectum protrudes more often, especially during bowel movements, urination, sneezing or coughing. Eventually, walking may be enough to trigger a prolapse, or the rectum will protrude continuously.

If you suspect you are experiencing rectal prolapse, do not panic. Our urogynecology team has the unique expertise to treat rectal prolapse as it relates to all other pelvic structures. Call us for a consultation. We can help you manage your early symptoms and recommend the best surgical option for you.