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Ano-rectal pathology

Different types of ano-rectal pathology are explored together with their effects on the ability to maintain anal continence.
© Association for Continence Advice. CC BY-NC 4.0

Anorectal conditions are common and, if identified during assessment, require referral to a medical practitioner.

Common conditions experienced include:

  • Haemorrhoids – vascular structures in the anal canal which, in their normal state help to control stools. They can swell, becoming painful and inflamed.
  • Anorectal fistula – an abnormal connection between the anal canal and the perianal skin. The internal opening is inside the anorectal lumen. The external opening is on the perianal skin surface.
  • Anal fissure – a tear in the opening of the anus.
  • Rectal prolapse – a protrusion of either the rectal mucosa or the entire wall of the rectum. Rectal prolapses occur either with bowel movements or independently.

Your task

The best way to learn about these pathologies is to view photographs and images of them.

Using your search engine of choice, type the following search terms into the search box and then select the ‘images’ tab to see photographs and diagrams of each condition.
  • Haemorrhoids
  • Anorectal (anal) fistula
  • Anal fissure
  • Rectal prolapse

Further information

If you would like further information about any of the above, you may find the following websites useful:


1. Overview haemorrhoids (piles). NHS website. [Updated 11 March 2016; cited 24 August 2018] Accessed from:

2. Overview anal fistula. NHS website. [Updated 8 June 2016; cited 24 August 2018] Accessed from:

3. Anal fissure. JAMA patient page. [Updated 19 March 2014; cited 24 August 2018] Accessed from:

4. Knott L. Rectal prolapse. Patient website. [Updated 29 August 2014; cited 24 August 2018] Accessed from:

© Association for Continence Advice. CC BY-NC 4.0
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