Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Painful Rectum Anatomy

To better understand anal pain, it helps to understand the anatomy of the colon, rectum and anus.

The intestine is a long, continuous, tube inside the body. It lets the body absorb nutrients from food and liquids. The intestine is about 22 feet long in an adult. It includes the large intestine (colon) and the small intestine.

The large intestine is also known as the colon. It is the last portion of the intestine. The colon has several parts, including:

  • Ascending colon: the first section after the small intestine, located on the right side
  • Transverse colon: sits horizontally across the upper abdomen
  • Descending colon: located on the left side of the abdomen
  • Sigmoid: a short, S-shaped section above the rectum
  • Rectum: the lowest internal part of the colon

Intestinal anatomy:
  • Entire gastrointestinal tract
  • Intestines and other abdominal organs
  • Blood vessels of the intestines

The anus is the opening on the gastrointestinal tract, where the stool exits. The anus marks the transition from the lining of the gastrointestinal tract to the external skin. The anal canal is a tube, 1-2 inches long that leads to the anus. The anal canal is surrounded by circular muscles, called sphincters, and blood vessels. The sphincters control defecation.

Last Updated: Nov 1, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Painful Rectum References
  1. Antao B, Bradley V, Roberts JP, Shawis R. Management of rectal prolapse in children. Dis Colon Rectum. 2005 Aug;48(8):1620-5. [15981062]
  2. Madiba TE, Baig MK, Wexner SD. Surgical management of rectal prolapse. Arch Surg. 2005 Jan;140(1):63-73. [15655208]
  3. Sagap I, Remzi FH. Controversies in the treatment of common anal problems. World J Gastroenterol. 2006 May 28;12(20):3146-54. [16718832]
  4. Silverman R, Bendick PJ, Wasvary HJ. A randomized, prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of the effect of a calcium channel blocker ointment on pain after hemorrhoidectomy. Dis Colon Rectum. 2005 Oct;48(10):1913-6. [16175328]
  5. Thompson JR, Chen AH, Pettit PD, Bridges MD. Incidence of occult rectal prolapse in patients with clinical rectoceles and defecatory dysfunction. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2002 Dec;187(6):1494-9; discussion 1499-500. [12501052]
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