Diseases of the Colon & Rectum

, Volume 39, Issue 11, pp 1296–1302 | Cite as

Does surgical repair of a rectocele improve rectal emptying?

  • Urban Karlbom
  • Wilhelm Graf
  • Sven Nilsson
  • Lars Påhlman
Original Contributions


PURPOSE: This study was undertaken to assess results of surgical repair of rectocele and to identify possible determinants of outcome from patient's history and preoperative defecography. Another aim was to evaluate how surgery affects rectal evacuation. METHOD: Thirty-four women with constipation and rectal emptying difficulties underwent surgery with a transanal technique. A preoperative defecography was performed in each patient. They were followed up after a median of 10 (range, 2–60) months with a questionnaire (n=34) and a defecography (n=31). Computer-based image analysis of defecographies was used to evaluate rectal evacuation. RESULTS: In 27 patients (79 percent), the result of surgery was good with subjectively improved emptying. The need for vaginal or perineal digitation preoperatively was related to a good result (P<0.05), whereas a previous hysterectomy (P<0.01) and a large rectal area on defecography (P<0.01) related to a poor result. Preoperative use of enemas, motor stimulants, or several types of laxatives also related to a poor outcome (P<0.05). Surgical treatment resulted in reduction of the rectocele (P<0.001), an elevated position of the anorectal junction (P<0.05), and improved rectal evacuation on defecographies (P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Surgical repair reduces the size of the rectocele and improves rectal emptying. These changes are accompanied by a symptomatic improvement in the majority of patients. Preoperative patient data and defecography may help in selecting patients for surgery.

Key words

Rectocele Constipation Obstructed defecation Defecography Rectal surgery Rectal evacuation 


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Copyright information

© American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Urban Karlbom
    • 1
  • Wilhelm Graf
    • 1
  • Sven Nilsson
    • 2
  • Lars Påhlman
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SurgeryUniversity HospitalUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Department of RadiologyUniversity HospitalUppsalaSweden

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