Definition

Anal atresia is a problem with the way the anus forms and the part of the intestine leading to the anus. It can make it hard or impossible for the child to pass stool. Your child may have:

  • An anal opening that is too thin or in the wrong place
  • A thin layer that covers the opening
  • Intestines that aren’t connected to the anus
  • An unusual link between the intestines and urinary systems that lets stool pass through the urinary system

Causes

Anal atresia happens when an unborn baby’s intestines develop the wrong way. The reason why isn't clear.

Risk Factors

Anal atresia is more common in boys. It is also more common in those with other health problems, such as Down syndrome and other birth defects.

Symptoms

If your baby has anal atresia, symptoms may include:

  • No anal opening at birth
  • Anal opening in the wrong place
  • No stool within 24-48 hours after birth
  • Problems feeding
  • Swollen belly

Milder anal atresia may not be found until later in life. It may show as a lack of bowel control by age three.

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.

Images may be taken. This can be done with:

Treatment

Most of the time, anal atresia can be fixed. Talk with your child's doctor about the best plan for your child. Your child may need:

Surgery

Surgery may be done to fix the anal atresia. The type will depend on the defects that your child has. Your child may have:

  • Surgery to connect the anus and intestine
  • Anoplasty to move the anus to the correct location
  • Colostomyto attach a part of the intestine to an opening in the wall of the belly to let waste to pass into a bag outside of the body

Temporary Colostomy of an Infant
exh5756b 97870 1 colostomy infant.jpg
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Prevention

Anal atresia can’t be prevented.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: Kari Kassir, MD
  • Review Date: 06/2018 -
  • Update Date: 07/02/2018 -