The "falling down" of any organ, usually applied to the uterus (womb) and the rectum.

Prolapse of the uterus is relatively common, particularly in elderly women. It is associated with the progressive weakness of muscle and of other supportive structures in the pelvic area in later life. Often this is caused by injury to or overstretching of the pelvic floor in childbirth. Injury to the perineum (the area of tissue between the anus and the vulva) and to the vagina may contribute to the prolapse.

Prolapse of the first degree implies the presence of the cervix (neck of the womb) at the vaginal opening. In second-degree prolapse the cervix protrudes through the vaginal opening; in third-degree prolapse the entire uterus protrudes through the vaginal opening. In some cases there are no symptoms apart from the mechanical discomfort of the movement of the uterus; but there may be some feeling of "bearing down" or heaviness in the lower part of the abdomen and back.

Surgery is the ideal treatment in many cases. The laxness in the ligaments and muscles is taken up and the uterus is returned to its proper position. In women past childbearing age, them more radical operation of removal of the uterus (hysterectomy) may be preferred. Another form of treatment in elderly women or in those who are poor operative risks is the insertion in the vagina of a rubber ring to take up the slack in the vagina and to support the neck of the womb.

In prolapse of the rectum, the rectal wall turns inside out and may protrude through the anal opening; this is complete prolapse. In partial prolapse, only the mucous membrane protrudes. The latter is much more common, especially in old age, and the protrusion is rarely more than 1 inch long.

Complete rectal prolapse is approximately five times as common in women as in men and is associated with repeated pregnancies and consequent weakening of the pelvic floor. And condition, such as chronic constipation, that leads to straining at stool may lead to prolapse, but the most common cause is hemorrhoids ("piles"). Again, surgical treatment is necessary if the prolapse is not to recur. Attention must be given also to the predisposing causes.

Pro*lapse" (?), n. [L. prolapsus, fr. prolapsus, p. p. of prolabi to fall forward; pro forward + labi to glide, fall.] Med.

The falling down of a part through the orifice with which it is naturally connected, especially of the uterus or the rectum.



© Webster 1913.

Pro*lapse", v. i.

To fall down or out; to protrude.


© Webster 1913.

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