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Herniation of the anterior rectal wall into the lumen of the vagina (so called rectocele) may be encountered in patients who complain of constipation and emptying difficulties but it is difficult to ascertain whether this anatomic abnormality is an etiologic factor or a consequence of the dyschezia.The aim of our study was to assess symptomatic, anatomic, and physiologic features encountered in womenwith a clearly defined rectocelein order to determine the predisposing factors, symptoms, functional associations, and effects on quantified rectal emptying.Clinical, physiologic (manometry), and anatomic (evacuation proctography) assessments were carried out in 26 consecutive women (mean age, 47.6±12 years) with dyschezia and a large rectocele as evidenced by radiography and compared with a group of 26 consecutive women complaining of dyschezia without a significant rectocele (mean age, 42.6±14 years). Both groups were similar with respect to mean age, parity, laxative abuse, manual anal evacuation, fecal incontinence, urgency, and weekly stool frequency.Patients having a rectocele differed significantly from those without a rectocele in having frequent endovaginal digitation during defecation (7vs.1, P< 0.05), more frequent symptoms of urinary incontinence (14vs.3, P<0.001), and a surgical history of hysterectomy (9vs.2, P< 0.05). The rectocele group differed in having a delayed rectal emptying (55.5±38vs.30.3±23 seconds, P<0.005), a more frequent incomplete rectal emptying (23vs.11, P<0.0005), and was more often associated with a manometric anismus (16vs.6, P<0.01). During the straining effort, there was a correlation between the depth of the rectocele and the duration of rectal emptying (rs=0.3, P<0.05). In the group without manometric anismus, women with a rectocele (n=10) had a more incomplete rectal emptying than those without rectocele (8/10vs.8/19, P=0.05).Some of our results indicate that the rectocele itself could be a contributory factor in difficult evacuation. These results also exhibit the importance of other disorders, such as anismus, in the occurrence of dyschezia. Physiologic examination therefore should be made before considering surgical repair in any patient with rectocele and dyschezia.