Enterocele and Rectocele Repairs

This information describes enteroceles and rectoceles and how they are repaired.

What is an enterocele (EN-tuh-roh-seel)?

An enterocele, also called small bowel prolapse, occurs when the small intestine moves down and pushes at the top part of the vagina. This creates a bulge (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: EnteroceleFigure 1. Enterocele

An enterocele can develop if the roof of the vagina is weak after surgery to remove the uterus. Other causes include:

  • Aging
  • Vaginal deliveries of heavy babies
  • Menopause
  • Previous hysterectomy
Back to top

What is a rectocele (REK-tuh-seal)?

A rectocele, also called a posterior prolapse, occurs when the rectum bulges into the back wall of the vagina (see Figure 2).

Figure 2: RectoceleFigure 2. Rectocele

A rectocele is most often caused by weakened muscles in the vaginal wall. Other causes include:

  • Aging
  • Vaginal deliveries of heavy babies
  • Menopause
Back to top

What is a repair?

A repair is surgery in which the wall of the vagina is strengthened with stitches. An enterocele repair stops the small intestine from bulging into the vagina. A rectocele repair stops the rectum from bulging into the vagina.

Back to top

Are there any risks or complications associated with this surgery?

Although not common, the following complications can occur:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Injury to the bladder or ureters (tubes that take urine from the kidneys to the bladder)
  • Ongoing leakage of urine
  • Long-term or permanent problems urinating
    • You may have to insert a catheter into your bladder to drain your urine. You may also need another surgery to correct the problem.
  • The inability to hold urine until you reach a toilet
  • Narrowing of the vagina
  • With a rectocele repair, the bowel can become damaged and this can cause painful sexual intercourse
Back to top

What can I expect at the time of surgery?

  • The surgery will take 1 to 2 hours.
  • You will be asleep during the surgery.
  • Your surgeon will put absorbable stitches into the wall of your vagina. Your small intestine and rectum are not involved in the surgery.
  • Most patients go home the next day.
Back to top

What can I expect after my surgery?

  • You will have a gauze dressing in your vagina to help stop bleeding. The dressing will be removed the day after your surgery.
  • A thin tube will drain urine from your bladder while the area heals. Your doctor or nurse will remove it in 5 days. Please call the office to make the appointment. You will learn how to care for the tube before you go home.
  • Mild vaginal bleeding is common after surgery; make sure you have sanitary napkins. Do not use tampons.
  • You can shower 48 hours after your surgery. Do not take a bath or soak in a pool or hot tub until your doctor or nurse says it is safe.
Back to top

Will I have to take any medications after my surgery?

You will receive 3 medications:

  • An antibiotic that you must take until all the pills are gone
  • Medication to relieve pain after surgery
  • A stool softener to keep your bowels loose; stop taking it if you have diarrhea
Back to top

What instructions should I follow after my surgery?

  • Call your doctor if you have:
    • A temperature of 101° F (38.3º C) or higher
    • More vaginal bleeding than when you were in the hospital
    • Pain that is not relieved with your pain medication
    • Severe bladder spasms
    • Not had a bowel movement for more than 48 hours
    • Not passed gas for 24 hours
    • Nausea, vomiting, or both
  • Make an appointment to see your doctor 2 weeks after your surgery.
  • For 4 weeks after your surgery, avoid activity that will put stress on your abdomen (belly). Do not lift anything heavier than 10 pounds. Do not do any strenuous exercise.
  • Do not have sexual intercourse until your doctor says it’s okay.
  • Do not use tampons until your doctor says it’s okay.
Back to top
If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Enterocele and Rectocele Repairs
©2016 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on February 4, 2016