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A rectocele is a medical condition that affects many women. It occurs when the rectum, the lower portion of the large intestine, falls forward, causing the walls of the vagina to move out of place. A rectocele may develop as the result of straining during bowel movements or heavy lifting. Childbirth is another common cause of the development of a rectocele. Surgical intervention is often needed to repair the damage caused by this condition.
Mild rectoceles often do not require surgical intervention and may be treated with exercise techniques. In more severe cases, when the rectum bulges into the vagina, rectocele surgery may be the only reasonable option. This surgery is aimed at repairing the damage to the vaginal wall.
Rectocele surgery is performed as an inpatient procedure, typically requiring the patient to spend several days in the hospital. Rectocele surgery is usually done under general anesthesia, meaning that the patient is asleep and is not aware of the procedure as it is being performed. In some cases, only a local anesthetic is used, and the patient remains awake for the procedure, even though no pain is experienced.
During rectocele surgery, the surgeon goes through the vagina to attach a type of synthetic mesh material to the wall of the vagina. This works to reinforce and strengthen this area so the rectum is held in place and can no longer protrude into the vagina. Occasionally, if there are other medical conditions present that require surgical intervention, the rectocele surgery may be performed through an incision into the abdominal wall instead of through the vagina.
Complete recovery following rectocele surgery often takes several weeks. This is generally related to the continued need for a catheter for a week or two following surgery. A catheter is a tube that is inserted into the bladder in order to drain urine directly from the bladder. Once sufficient healing has taken place, the catheter is removed and the healing process progresses more rapidly.
Complications from rectocele surgery are rare, but any problems or concerns should be addressed with the surgeon right away. A bloody vaginal discharge after surgery is normal, but if this discharge has a foul odor or if the bleeding is heavy, a doctor should be consulted for advice. Infection sometimes occurs following any type of surgery, and some doctors may prescribe an antibiotic in an effort to prevent this type of complication.