Many explanations have been offered for the occurrence of rectal prolapse; not one is entirely satisfactory. All recent views tend to classify the condition as a true abdominal hernia and to seek the cause in a congenital anatomic defect.
So far as we have been able to find, there has been no observation that prolapse was a hereditary defect. In a family which has accidentally come to our attention, the heredity of this condition is unmistakable. The study of this family throws an interesting light on the occurrence of rectal prolapse in other cases, and perhaps indirectly on that of other varieties of hernia.
The first member of this family to be seen by us (Joseph in the accompanying chart) came to the outpatient department for an irrelevant complaint, and the prolapse was discovered in the course of physical examination. He stated that he had had it since infancy, and