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Understanding cloacal anomalies
  1. S A Warne1,
  2. M P Hiorns2,
  3. J Curry3,
  4. I Mushtaq1
  1. 1Department of Paediatric Urology, Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London, UK
  2. 2Department of Radiology, Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London, UK
  3. 3Department of Paediatric Surgery, Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to S A Warne, Department of Paediatric Urology, Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital, London WC1N 3JH, UK; stephaniewarne{at}


Persistent cloaco is the most severe type of anorectal malformation encountered in children. Patients with cloacal anomalies have a high incidence of associated anomalies most commonly: urinary tract and spinal. Persistent cloaca remains a difficult reconstructive challenge but it is now possible to anatomically correct the defect with surgery in the majority of patients. This review discusses embryology, prenatal diagnosis, neonatal physical and radiological findings. A summary of early management and investigation is provided and the commonest surgical reconstruction techniques are discussed.

The main goals of surgical reconstruction are the achievement of bowel and bladder control for the child and normal sexual function in adult life. Although the majority of cloaca patients can achieve faecal and urinary continence with the surgical reconstructive procedures performed today, many require additional/multiple urological procedures to achieve continence, treat bladder dysfunction and to protect renal function. One half of patients will develop renal failure, so regular and life long surveillance is mandatory. Due to the high number of associated gynaecological problems all patients should be assessed by a paediatric gynaecologist at puberty.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.