The Altemeier repair: Outpatient treatment of rectal prolapse

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Rectal prolapse typically occurs in elderly patients, who are often poor surgical candidates because of the presence of multiple comorbidities. Abdominal approaches to procidentia have low recurrence rates but are associated with higher rates of morbidity and mortality. Perineal rectosigmoidectomy (Altemeier repair) is a safe and effective approach to the treatment of rectal prolapse and can be done as an outpatient procedure. In this article, the results of a series of 63 consecutive Altemeier repairs are presented.


Between February 1993 and December 1999, 63 patients (61 females) underwent Altemeier repair of rectal prolapse. The mean patient age was 79 years. Preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative data were collected and analyzed for all patients.


Median follow-up was 20.8 months. Seventy percent of patients were given a regional or local anesthetic. The average resected specimen length was 11.6 cm, and 83 percent of anastomoses were stapled. Sixty-two percent of patients were discharged home on the day of surgery, and 80 percent were home within 24 hours. Complications occurred in 10 percent of patients, but there was no perioperative mortality. There was a 6.4 percent recurrence rate, and all recurrences were successfully treated with repeat Altemeier repair. All 63 patients had complete objective resolution of prolapse, and 87 percent had subjective improvement after repair.


Altemeier repair of rectal prolapse is safe, produces minimal discomfort, and does not require a general anesthetic. It is ideally suited to be done on an outpatient basis, as was done in the majority of patients in our series. The recurrence rate is slightly higher than with abdominal resections, but morbidity and cost are lower, and repeat perineal resections are easily and safely performed.

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