What Is Rectum Function? 3 Parts and Facts about Rectum?

The straight part of the body colon is the dilated pouch like structure that is preceded by sigmoid colon and followed by anal canal. Before you defecate, the feces is temporarily stored in this gastrointestinal structure which becomes dilated on the arrival of waste material and induces the urge for its elimination through anal verge.

The word "rectum" has been derived from a Latin phrase "Rectum Intestinum" which means "straight intestine". As the rectum facts suggest, this organ is about 12 cm in length, and begins at the third sacral vertebrae and is joined with the preceding section of large bowel at rectosigmoid junction.



Based on the structure and function of the distal end of large gut, you can divide rectum parts into following distinguishable components:

Rectosigmoid Junction

Marks the division between sigmoid colon and the straight rectal canal which runs nearly parallel to the ascending and descending colons.

Rectal Ampulla

At the point of its commencement, the approximate internal diameter of rectum is almost the same as that of sigmoid colon, but as it runs farther, it dilates and increases in calibre (internal diameter). The point where the rectal canal reaches its maximum dilation marks the beginning of this specialized structure which serves as a short-term reservoir for feces before defecation.

Anorectal Ring

At the termination point of rectum intestinum, there is present a strong muscular ring-like structure that separates it from anal canal. Along with puborectalis muscle, the upper portions of external and internal sphincters also contribute to the functioning of the structure, i.e. prevention and control of stool until it is intentionally removed.


The primary rectum function is the temporary storage of stool so that you may have some time to reach the place where it can be defecated. As the waste and indigestible materials get entry into it, the canal becomes dilated, thus stretching the muscles lining the rectal region.

Stretch receptors are located in the wall of rectum which sense the dilation of the gut and send signal to the nervous system (brain) where these are processed and a response is generated that induces the need for the elimination of waste materials passing through anal canal and getting out through anal verge.

However, if you do not go for defecation for a prolonged duration, the stool gets back into the colon for further absorption of fluids which may also result in hardening of stool and constipation.

About the Author

Posted by: M. Isaac / Senior writer

A graduate in biological sciences and a PhD scholar (NCBA&E University, Lahore), M. Isaac combines his vast experience with a keen and critical eye to create practical and inherently engaging content on the human body. His background as a researcher and instructor at a secondary school enables him to best understand the needs of the beginner level learners and the amateur readers and educate them about how their body works, and how they can adopt a healthier lifestyle.

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