PURPOSE:Solitary rectal ulcer syndrome (SRUS) is a poorly understood clinical condition and its scheme of treatment has not been defined yet. The aim of this investigation was to review the clinical spectra and outcome of various surgical treatments in patients with SRUS, thus to define more rational approach to the management of this ambiguous condition. METHODS:The study population was composed of 49 patients, among whom 20 patients (18 females and 2 males; median age, 55) were diagnosed primarily as SRUS histopathologically (=primary SRUS). Reviewing all pathologic reports and slides from specimens resected surgically in patients with rectal prolapse, another 20 cases were diagnosed to be combined with SRUS. Other 9 patients included those who were diagnosed histologically as or to be combined with SRUS after the operation for an indication other than SRUS. The latter 29 cases (26 females and 3 males; median age, 72) were defined as secondary SRUS, and then differences in clinical features and outcome of surgical treatment between 2 groups were reviewed retrospectively. The median follow-up was 24 months (range, 5-49 months). RESULTS:Ulcerative morphology was predominant in primary SRUS (70 percent), whereas erythematous (45 percent) and polypoid (34 percent) in the secondary ones. This difference in morphologic distribution between two groups was significant statistically (P=0.0025). No statistical difference was observed for symptomatologic distributions between two groups. The most common problem associated with evacuation was rectal bleeding in both groups (85 percent and 76 percent, respectively). In primary SRUS, clinical and defecographic studies revealed a rectal prolapse in 5 patients (25 percent), intussusception in 11 patients (55 percent), sigmoidocele (2 degrees) in 4 (20 percent), and paradoxical puborectalis contraction (PPC) in 3 (15 percent) to be combined. Beside rectal prolapse in secondary group, other defecographic findings associated with possible evacuatory problem included sigmoidocele (2 degrees) in 5 (25 percent), rectocele and intussusception in 2 (10 percent), respectively. Clinical improvement after surgery was obtained in 14 of 19 procedures (74 percent) in 17 patients with primary SRUS and 23 of 29 (79 percent) in secondary SRUS, the difference of which was not significant. Though statistically not significant, transabdominal rectopexy was superior to local excision for symptomatic relief in primary SRUS without overt prolapse (86 percent vs. 33 percent). Neither of changes in the percentage of symptoms before and after the operation between two groups showed significance. Clinical and pathologic variables were compared between two treatment result groups of 'improvement' and 'no improvement' and manifestations as tenesmus and digitation correlated with a poorer outcome after surgery (P=0.0065 and 0.02, respectively). CONCLUSIONS:SRUS is rather a clinical condition associated with functional anorectal evacuatory disorders than an independent disorder. This study shows optimistic role of a surgical treatment against underlying functional disorders in the improvement of secondary SRUS. Proper surgical option, however, for treatment in variable clinical spectra of primary SRUS is still not established, which awaits a conclusion from extensive prospective randomized trials.