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Clin Anat. 2001 May;14(3):196-203.

Transverse folds of rectum: anatomic study and clinical implications.

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Professor and Chairman, Department of Surgery and Experimental Research, Faculty of Medicine, Cairo University, Cairo, Egypt.


There are controversies with respect to the location, number, and function of the transverse folds of the rectum (TFR), probably because their physioanatomic aspects have not been fully investigated. The purpose of this communication was to study the anatomic and histologic structure of the TFR aiming at elucidation of their function in the light of their structure. The TFR were studied morphologically and histologically in 18 cadavers (10 male, 8 female) with a mean age of 36.6 +/- 10.4 (SD) years. Barium enema studies were also performed in 36 volunteers (20 male, 16 female; mean age 38.6 +/- 15.2 [SD] years). The number of TFR varied, the commonest findings being two and three. In a few cases, TFR were absent or exceeded three in number. Most folds extended beyond the middle of the rectal lumen; a few were narrow. They were thick at the base and tapered gradually. Microscopically, the TFR contained circular and longitudinal smooth muscle fibers; they were rarely purely mucosal. TFR varied in location dividing the rectum into compartments; an alternating side-to-side arrangement allows for a wavy movement of the stool in the rectum. The wavy movement, compartmental division, and the shelving action of the TFR are suggested to retard stool movement in the rectum so as to allow time for fecal sampling (stool or gas) and for impulses to reach the conscious level to decide whether or not to defecate. Further studies are needed to investigate the role of the TFR in clinical practice.

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