Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Rectal Prolapse Definition:

A medical condition in which the lower end of the bowel (the rectum) falls or pops out of the anus.

According to the Attorney's Dictionary of Medicine, a rectal prolapse is:

"A protrusion of some or all of the layers of the wall of the rectum through the opening of the anus."

Dr. David Naysmith writes:

"Rectal Prolapse. Anything that prolapses, falls out of it’s usual position. The rectum is a straight short segment about 12-15 centimetres long and the last bit of the bowel before the anus and the outside world. So with rectal prolapse the lower end of the bowel pops out of the anus.

"Think of pulling your shirt sleeve off while the cuff is still tightly buttoned around your wrist and you’ll have some idea of what’s happening.

"It can occur at any age. Some children have a congenital (born with) weakness of the internal attachment of the rectum, and older folks can get it associated with increased pressures required to have a bowel movement if constipated. Or it can be seen with the enormous intra (within) abdominal pressures generated during labour and delivery.

"Fortunately most rectal prolapse reduce (pop back into place) spontaneously but some require manual reduction and some will require surgical repair to prevent future prolapses.

"The lining of the rectum is mucous membrane, a soft, pink, and somewhat fragile looking membrane that doesn’t look at all like skin.

"Rectal prolapse, either partial or complete, is to be distinguished from hemorrhoids which are simply bulging veins (like varicose veins) in or around the anal canal."


  • Duhaime.org wishes to thank Doctor David Naysmith of Victoria, British Columbia for the text of this medical-legal definition.
  • Schmidt, J. E., Attorney's Dictionary of Medicine (Newark, NJ: Matthew Bender, 2001), Volume 5.

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