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Between April 1989 and October 1991, 20 consecutive patients underwent perineal rectosigmoidectomy and coloanal anastomosis for full-thickness rectal prolapse. These 16 females and 4 males, with a mean age of 82 (range, 68-101) years, were evaluated by detailed functional assessment and physiologic testing. A grading scale from 0 to 24 was based upon the frequency and type of incontinence, 0 representing full continence. The mean preoperative continence score was 14.5, while the mean postoperative continence score was 8.4. The mean length of resected rectosigmoid was 23 cm. There was one postoperative death and one significant complication, a postoperative pelvic hematoma that required reoperation. There were no full-thickness recurrences at a mean follow-up of 26 months. Six of the 10 patients who underwent preoperative pudendal nerve terminal motor latency (PNTML) testing had evidence of severe neuropathy (latencies greater than 2.5 milliseconds). Prolonged PNTML, however, was not shown to be an accurate predictor of postoperative incontinence because four of the six patients with neuropathy regained excellent to good control. In conclusion, perineal rectosigmoidectomy is a safe operation for the treatment of full-thickness rectal prolapse in the elderly patient. Improved postoperative continence was noted in 90 percent of patients, with improvement seen even in those patients with severe pudendal neuropathy.