Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Imperforate Anus Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of Imperforate Anus

Signs and symptoms of imperforate anus include:

  • No passage of stool within a day or two of birth
  • Passing stool through another opening, like the urethra in boys or vagina in girls
  • Swollen belly
  • Opening to the anus missing or not in the usual place (in girls, may be near the vagina)

Imperforate Anus Diagnosis

Doctors usually find imperforate anus when they examine a baby right after birth. Usually, a physical exam is enough for doctors to make the diagnosis. An exam also helps doctors determine the severity.

They will check the area around your baby’s bottom and genitals for normal openings and for signs of imperforate anus and linked problems. They may also check to see if they can find a baby’s first stool (meconium) and tell where it is located.

Your baby’s doctor may ask for some imaging tests:

  • X-ray of the belly and lower spine (sacrum)
  • Ultrasound  

These tests can show important details, such as where the rectum ends and whether it connects to another structure, helping your baby’s doctor understand what surgery and follow-up care are best.

Anorectal malformations vary greatly from child to child. How severe the problems are depends on:

  • How far your baby’s digestive tract extends. If the rectum reaches nearly to the normal site of the anus, the problem may be easier to repair.
  • How much the nearby muscles are affected.
  • Whether a channel connects the rectum to the urinary tract in boys or the genitals in girls. If it does, surgeons will need to repair the channel.

If your baby is diagnosed with imperforate anus, your baby will need other tests later on to check for problems with the spine, heart and kidneys.