AskDefine | Define prolapse

Dictionary Definition

prolapse n : the slipping or falling out of place of an organ (as the uterus) [syn: prolapsus, descensus] v : slip or fall out of place, as of body parts; "prolapsed rectum"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. To move out of place; especially for an internal organ to protrude beyond its normal position


  1. A moving out of place, especially a protrusion of an internal organ


Extensive Definition

Prolapse literally means "To fall out of place." In medicine, prolapse is a condition where organs, such as the uterus, fall down or slip out of place. It is used for organs protruding through the vagina, rectum, or for the misalignment of the valves of the heart. A spinal disc herniation is also sometimes called disc prolapse. Relating to the uterus, prolapse condition makes the organ extend inferiorly into vagina causing weakened muscles.
Rectal Prolapse
Rectal prolapse is a condition in which part of the wall or the entire wall of the rectum falls out of place. In some cases, the rectum may stick out of the body (protrusion).
There are three types of rectal prolapse.
  • Partial prolapse - The lining of the rectum falls out of place when you strain to have a bowel movement. Sometimes this is confused with an internal hemorrhoid (which may itself prolapse).
  • Complete prolapse - The entire wall of the rectum falls and usually sticks out of the body. This may occur during bowel movements. It may occur walking or standing. Rarely, the tissue may remain outside the body all the time.
  • Partial and complete prolapses may be able to be pushed back inside the body. The prolapse is then said to be reduced (pushed back inside).
  • Internal prolapse (intussusception) - Part of the wall of the colon (large intestine) may slide into or over another part, much like the moving parts of the telescope. The tissue does not hang out of the body. It occurs inside (internal).
There are multiple causes of rectal prolapse. A life long habit of straining to have bowel movements, stresses involved in childbirth, weakening of the anal sphincter muscle, and/or weakening of the ligaments that support the rectum are frequent causes. Neurological problems, such as spinal cord transaction or a spinal cord disease, can also lead to prolapse. In rare cases there may be a genetic predisposition. In most cases, though, no single cause can be identified.
Symptoms of a rectal prolapse may be:
  • Leakage of stool
  • Bleeding, anal pain, itching, irritation
  • Tissue that protrudes from the rectum
Other accompanying symptoms may be:
  • A feeling of having full bowels and an urgent need to have a bowel movement
  • Passage of many very small stools
  • The feeling of not being able to empty the bowels completely
Treatment should be aimed at avoiding constipation and avoiding straining to have a bowel movement. A diet rich in fiber and drinking 6 to 8 glasses of decaffeinated fluids every day will assist in keeping stools soft. In some cases physical therapy with biofeedback can assist with avoiding straining. If anal sphincter muscles are weak, Kegels are recommended. Physical therapy can also help strengthen weakened ligaments and anal sphincter muscles.
Two types of surgery are used to treat a complete prolapse. A surgeon may operate through the belly to secure part of the large intestine or rectum to the inside the abdominal cavity (rectopexy). Sometimes the surgeon removes the affected part of the intestine.
Surgery also can be done through the area between the genitals and the anus (perineum) to remove the prolapsing tissue
Surgery is most often successful for people who still have some control over their bowel movements. If the anal sphincter is damaged, surgery may correct the prolapse but not be able to completely correct fecal incontinence (lack of control of bowel movements). In some cases, fecal incontinence improves after prolapse surgery and in some cases fecal incontinence worsens.

In birds

Oviduct prolapse is an often fatal condition in birds. When an egg is laid, the vagina everts through the cloaca to deliver the egg. Large eggs and avian obesity are contributors to this condition. Immediate veterinary assistance is paramount to the survival of a bird with prolapse. Even with immediate medical intervention the chances for survival are usually uncertain. Untreated birds will begin to tear at the injury site. Other flockmates will begin to cannibalise the prolapse area. This behaviour is commonly known as pickout.

In cattle

Uterine prolapse in cattle, particularly dairy cattle, generally occurs in the first 12 hours post-calving. Frequent causes are hypocalcemia combined with irritation of the birth canal, causing straining. Replacement of the organ, which can be from softball-sized to the entire uterus hanging down below the hocks, is done with the cow in sternal recumbency, an epidural injection, and hindlimbs 'frogged' rearwards to allow the pelvis to tip forward, easing replacement. Careful washing and cleaning prior to replacement is important as is ensuring that the horns are completely everted once inside the cow. Often a Buhner suture is placed in the vulva to prevent subsequent re-prolapse.

In pigs

Rectal prolapse is a condition routinely identified in pigs on farm and at slaughter. If not reduced quickly, prolapses in pigs become necrotic and infected, plus the additional risk of cannibalization by other pen mates. If the latter happens it normally results in death of the animal by septicemia, shock or faecal peritonitis.

External links

prolapse in German: Prolaps
prolapse in Italian: Prolasso
prolapse in Norwegian: Prolaps
prolapse in Norwegian Nynorsk: Prolaps
prolapse in Russian: Пролапс
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