Abdominal Approaches to Rectal Prolapse

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Rectal prolapse is a debilitating condition with a complex etiology. Symptoms are most commonly prolapse of the rectum and pain with bowel movements or straining, with worsening fecal incontinence over time due to progressive stretching of the anal sphincters. Physical findings are fairly consistent from patient to patient—most notably diastasis of the levator ani muscles, deep pouch of Douglas, redundant sigmoid colon, a mobile mesorectum, and occasionally a solitary rectal ulcer. Evaluation includes a physical exam or imaging demonstrating the prolapse, and evaluating for other causes of pelvic floor dysfunction. Multiple surgical repairs are available, but treatment must be individualized based on patient symptoms and the presence or absence of constipation or other pelvic floor disorders. Mesh repairs have shown promising results, but carry the added risks of mesh erosion, infection, and mesh migration. The optimal repair has not been clearly demonstrated at this time.

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