Anal Atresia

Anal atresia is a condition that a baby is born with. It is a problem with the development of the anus and the part of the intestine leading to the anus. Anal atresia can make it difficult or impossible for the child to pass stool. The specific problems can vary but may include: Most of the time, anal atresia can be corrected.

  • Causes

    An unborn baby's intestines develop during the fifth to seventh week of pregnancy. A disturbance in this development causes anal atresia. The exact reason for the disturbance isn't clear.

  • Definition

    Anal atresia is a condition that a baby is born with. It is a problem with the development of the anus and the part of the intestine leading to the anus. Anal atresia can make it difficult or impossible for the child to pass stool. The specific problems can vary but may include:

    • Anal opening is too narrow or in the wrong place
    • Membrane covers the anal opening
    • Intestines are not connected to the anus
    • An abnormal connection between the intestines and urinary systems, allowing stool to pass through the urinary system

    Most of the time, anal atresia can be corrected.

  • Diagnosis

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

    Images may be taken of your baby's bodily structures. This can be done with:

    • Abdominal x-ray
    • MRI
    • Ultrasound

  • Prevention

    There is no known way to prevent anal atresia.

  • Risk Factors

    Anal atresia happens in boys twice as often as girls. It may also occur with other birth defects. The use of steroid inhalers by the mother during pregnancy may be linked to anal atresia.

  • Symptoms

    If your baby has anal atresia, symptoms may include:

    • No anal opening present at birth
    • Anal opening in the wrong location
    • No stool within 24-48 hours after birth
    • Stool being excreted through the vagina, penis, scrotum, or urethra
    • Vomiting
    • Tight, swollen stomach

    Milder anal atresia may not be apparent until later in life. It may show as a lack of bowel control by age 3.

  • Treatment

    Talk with your child's doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include: