Rectal prolapse may be partial, involving only the mucosa. Or it may be complete, involving the entire wall of the rectum. It can occur in children, but is much more common in older people.
Surgery is needed to correct rectal prolapse in adults and some children. Most surgical procedures for rectal prolapse are done under general anesthesia. For older or sicker patients, epidural or spinal anesthesia may be used.
There are three basic types of surgery to repair rectal prolapse. Your surgeon will decide which one is best for you.
For healthy adults, an abdominal procedure has the best chance of success. While you are under general anesthesia, the doctor makes a surgical cut in the abdomen and removes a portion of the colon. The rectum may be attached (sutured) to the surrounding tissue.
Sometimes a soft piece of mesh is wrapped around the rectum to help it stay in place. This procedure can also be done with laparoscopic surgery (also known as "keyhole" or "telescopic" surgery).
For older adults or those with other medical problems, an approach from below (perineal approach) might be less risky. However, with the perineal procedure, the condition will be more likely to come back (recur).
While you are under general, epidural, or spinal anesthesia, the prolapsing rectum or colon can be treated from the pelvic floor (perineum). The doctor will remove a portion of the colon, suture the rectum to the surrounding tissues, or both.
Very frail or sick patients may need a small procedure to reinforce the sphincter muscles. This technique encircles the muscles with a band of soft mesh or a silicone tube. This approach provides only temporary improvement and is rarely used.