Rectal prolapse

It consists of the eversion of the rectum.

Alternative names: Prolapse of the rectum


It is common in sows and in growing pigs from 8 to 20 weeks old, with a sudden onset of the disease. Rectal prolapse often occurs in sows with prolapse of the vagina and cervix and often during the last third of the gestation, including immediate pre-partum period.



All ages

  • At first, the rectal redness mucosa protrudes through the anal sphincter.
  • It can return to its position by itself or remain outside, become swollen and be filled with fluids.
  • It is prone to injuries, hemorrhage and cannibalism.
  • Pale pigs due to hemorrhage.
  • Blood in stool.
  • Swollen abdomen of pigs 2-4 weeks after the prolapse has been observed (constriction or rectal narrowing).
  • Constipation.
  • Sometimes death occurs.


Causes / Contributing Factors

The fundamental cause is an increase in abdominal pressure that pushes the rectum to the outside, the mucous membrane become swollen and then the animal is making efforts to defecate.

The exact mechanisms are not known but the following factors must be considered as predisposing:

  • Prolapses occurring after estrus associated with levels of sex hormones that exist in this period.
  • It may also occur in cases of constipation, for example if the sow receives little fiber in the diet.
  • Penetration of the rectum during mating can result in a prolapse 24-48 hours later.
  • Sows in cages or if they are tied while staying in pens with floors that have an excessive slope towards the back.
  • Rectal prolapse can occur when there is an increase in abdominal pressure; for example, a sow lying on a small resting area and having a step towards the area of defecation.
  • Moldy feed or straw containing mycotoxins can cause rectal prolapse.
  • Low-fiber diets can cause constipation and prolapse.
  • Genetic factors may sometimes play a role.

The following may be considered as causes or contributing factors especially during the fattening stage:

  • Diarrhea: they make a big effort to defecate (especially in case of Salmonella).
  • Respiratory disease: excessive coughing, increases abdominal pressure.
  • When it is cold the incidence of rectal prolapse increases. It is associated with low temperatures in the buildings and the tendency of pigs to pile up, further increasing abdominal pressure. 
  • Trauma.
  • Tails cutting: tails that are too short can damage nerves coming to the anal sphincter leading to the relaxation of the rectum.



It is based on clinical signs.



  • Remove the animal from its pen, repair the prolapse and maintain it in position with a suture around the rectum.
  • Treatment of predisposing conditions (diarrhea, respiratory outbreak, appropriate temperature).

Atlas of pathology

See images in the Altlas related to Rectal prolapse