Cloacal Deformities

Cloacal deformities encompass a wide range of complicated defects that occur during fetal development of the lower abdominal structures, particularly the intestinal and genito-urinary tracts.  Normally, the urethra, the genital tract and the rectum each have a separate opening at the skin’s surface, but with cloacal deformities the three tracts merge into one common channel and one opening on the child’s bottom (perineum). Another variant of a cloacal deformity is called a cloacal exstrophy, in which a child is born with structures such as the large intestine and bladder exposed outside the abdominal wall. Cloacal deformities can cause problems with urinary control, bowel control and eventual sexual function. At the Colorectal Surgical Program, part of C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan, we provide comprehensive, multidisciplinary care for children with cloacal deformities. Our dedicated team of specialists evaluates will create a customized treatment plan and begin your individualized treatment plan immediately. We offer a truly multidisciplinary approach to caring for children, going beyond treatment and management of symptoms to support your child throughout childhood and even into adulthood.

Diagnosing cloacal deformities

In some instances, cloacal deformities can be diagnosed prenatally during routine ultrasound, and confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). After birth, cloacal deformities are diagnosed by physical examination.  Some testing will be required and may include:

  • magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • endoscopy to view the interior of the rectum, urethra or vagina
  • abdominal ultrasound to view the anatomy of the internal organs as they function, and to assess blood flow

Your child may also be evaluated for esophageal, vertebral, tracheal or cardiac anomalies that are often associated with cloacal deformities.

Treatment for cloacal anomalies

Every child’s treatment plan is individualized, based on the patient’s needs and severity of disorder, utilizing cutting-edge technology and the latest research. Surgery will be necessary to repair the deformity.  Our Pediatric Surgery team will work in collaboration with other surgical specialties, including Pediatric Urology, Pediatric Orthopedics and Gynecology.  Often, corrective procedures will need to be performed in stages, depending on whether the urethra and vagina are in-tact or need to be created.  Usually, a reconstruction of the bowel is necessary. University of Michigan surgeons specialize in minimally invasive techniques whenever possible.  Learn more about pediatric surgery at Mott Children’s Hospital. Depending on how much intestine needed to be removed, your child may have varying levels of long-term care needs. More mild cases generally have a favorable long-term outlook. These children usually have excellent bladder control, normal sexual development and function, and a near normal pattern of bowel movements. Many children may require ongoing care from a stooling and urinary bladder management program, and additional medical and surgical interventions to improve their quality of life.  Once your child is a part of our Colorectal Program we will follow them throughout childhood and into early adult life to ensure the best possible quality of life.

Discover the Michigan Difference in pediatric colorectal surgical care.

For more information or to make an appointment, call 1-877-475-MOTT (1-877-475-6688).