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Rectal prolapse in children

Leonel A Rodriguez, MD, MS
Section Editors
Craig Jensen, MD
Jonathan I Singer, MD
Deputy Editor
James F Wiley, II, MD, MPH


This topic will discuss the clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and management of rectal prolapse in children.

Rectal prolapse in adults is discussed separately. (See "Overview of rectal procidentia (rectal prolapse)" and "Surgical approach to rectal procidentia (rectal prolapse)".)


Rectal prolapse refers to the extrusion of some or all of the rectal mucosa through the external anal sphincter (figure 1) [1-4]. Rectal prolapse seldom occurs in children who do not have an underlying predisposing condition. Self-limited conditions are more common between infancy and four years of age, with the highest incidence in the first year of life [1,5]. Those presenting beyond 4 years of age usually have a chronic predisposing condition (see below). Observational reports suggest that during childhood, rectal prolapse occurs in higher frequency in boys [6,7].


There are two types of rectal prolapse [4]. Type I, also called false procidentia, partial, or mucosal prolapse, involves protrusion of the mucosa only and usually is less than 2 cm long. Partial rectal prolapse produces radial folds at the junction with the anal skin (figure 1).

Type II, also known as true procidentia, or complete prolapse, involves full thickness extrusion of the rectal wall and is characterized by concentric folds in the prolapsed mucosa (picture 1). This group is subdivided into three subsets according to the degree of the prolapse:

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Nov 28, 2017.
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