Last week, a friend of mine found a stray kitten with rectal prolapse. The poor little kitten was taken to our faculty and was given treatment
A cat with rectal prolapse
A rectal prolapse is the extrusion (pushing out) of the inner layers of the rectum through the anus. It is often a result of straining to defecate, urinate, or give birth. Diseases causing straining in a kitten, such as constipation, parasites, or diarrhea, may cause a displacement or protrusion of the rectum. Cats straining to urinate because of urinary infections or other urinary disease may cause the rectum to prolapse. The condition may also occur in a female cat during a difficult birth. The rectum will appear as a reddened "sausage-like" protrusion from the anus. The prolapsed rectum may extend 1/2 to several inches from the body.
Rectal prolapse typically occurs in puppies and kittens under 6 months of age. The cause of the prolapse is usually not ever determined, but many veterinarians feel that gastrointestinal parasites are an underlying cause. The affected animal typically strains and strains and eventually, part of the rectum is pushed out the anus.
Older animals can also develop rectal prolapse. In these situations, the underlying irritation causing the straining and eventual prolapse is often associated with injury to the rectal lining or rectal tumors.
Rectal tissue is everted, swollen, and reddened, and accompanying ulceration or necrosis may be seen. The prolapse mass is cylindrical, with a depression seen in the end. Tenesmus and pain may or may not be present.
Rectal prolapse must be differentiated from ileocolic or colic intussusception. Grossly, they appear similar, but signs of partial or complete obstruction usually accompany intussusception. In addition, with rectal prolapse, a lubricated probe cannot be passed between the rectal wall and the prolapsed mass. This is in contradistinction to an intussusception.
Intussusception: is the sliding or telescoping of the intestine within itself. It occurs primarily in the small intestine but may occasionally occur in the large intestine. When the intestine slides within itself the blood supply to that section is greatly reduced and the tissue begins to swell and then die. The entire process can occur rapidly, which makes early detection and treatment essential.
**Intussusception is different than rectal prolapse!!**
What to Watch For
- Tissue protruding from anus
- Excessive licking of anal and genital area
Early treatment is crucial. If the tissue appears to still be alive and not too traumatized, your veterinarian will try to push it back into normal position. A suture is then placed around the anus to make sure the tissue does not come out again. The suture must be loose enough to allow stool to pass out. This suture is generally left in for 48 hours and then removed.
If the rectal tissue is dried, severely traumatized or appears to be dead, surgery will need to be performed. The damaged part of the intestine is surgically amputated and the remaining tissue of the large intestine is sutured to the anus. Surgery may also be necessary if the prolapse returns after attempting to push it back inside and suturing.
It is best to avoid surgery since amputation of the rectum is fraught with complications. Serious infection and fecal incontinence can occur. Animals treated with surgery have a guarded to poor prognosis (predicts the outcome of diseases)
There is no home care for rectal prolapse. Keep the tissue moistened and do not allow your pet to lick or chew at the tissue. After treatment, animals are often prescribed stool softeners for a period of time. In some cases, a gel is recommended to be placed in the rectum to reduce pain and irritation.
Since the underlying cause of rectal prolapse is often not known, it is difficult to prevent. Have your pet dewormed routinely and have fecal examinations performed. Keeping your pet parasite free is one measure you can take to help prevent rectal prolapse.
What to do if you see your cat have rectal prolapse??
1. Use sterile saline or saline-only contact lens solution and squirt over the swollen rectal area
2. Put on a pair of disposable gloves and apply lots of KY Jelly to the exposed rectal tissue
3. Take a small towel and moisten it with saline solution and wrap the area with it
4. Go to the vet immediately!
Sources: Rectal prolapse PetPlace.com, Max's house; Rectal prolapse, doctors foster and smith pet education.com, gotoaid.com;rectal prolapse