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Digestive and Gastrointestinal Conditions

Imperforate Anus and Anorectal Malformations

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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, opening 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 to make the diagnosis. After identifying a potential problem, though, your baby's doctor may ask for some imaging tests:

  • X-ray of the belly
  • Ultrasound

These tests can show your baby's doctor some details, such as where the rectum ends and whether it connects to another structure.

The severity of imperforate anus varies greatly from child-to-child. Doctors classify anorectal deformities as high or low. How severe the problems are depends on:

  • How far your baby's rectum descends. Rectums that end close to the normal site of the anus may be easier to repair.
  • How much the surrounding muscles are affected
  • Whether there is a channel (fistula) connecting your baby's rectum to the urinary tract in boys or the vagina in girls. If so, these channels will need repair.

Doctors can often find out a lot about how severe the problem is by carefully examining your baby. In girls, they will look for the normal openings around your baby's bottom. In boys, they will carefully examine the area around the bottom and genitals for signs of imperforate anus and accompanying problems. They may also check to see if they can find any baby stool (meconium). If so, where the stool shows up can help doctors understand the severity of the problem.

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

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