Pediatric Imperforate Anus Workup
- Author: Nelson G Rosen, MD, FACS, FAAP; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD more...
See the list below:
- CBC count, blood typing and screening, and serum electrolyte levels should be measured in all children with imperforate anus who require operation.
- Urinalysis should be performed to determine the presence of a rectourinary fistula in all cases in which the diagnosis cannot be made based solely on the physical examination findings. If a child has a perineal fistula, vestibular fistula, or a single perineal orifice, urinalysis is unnecessary. Urinalysis is required in all other affected children.
See the list below:
- Sacral radiography: Two views of the sacrum, posteroanterior and lateral, should be obtained to measure sacral ratios and to look for sacral defects, hemivertebrae, and presacral masses. This should be performed before surgery.
- Abdominal ultrasonography: This study is specifically used to examine the genitourinary tract and to look for any other masses. Hydronephrosis, hydrocolpos, presacral mass, abdominal mass, or any similar finding can profoundly affect management. This study should be performed before surgery and must be repeated after 72 hours because early ultrasonography findings may be insufficient to rule out hydronephrosis due to vesicoureteral reflux.
- Spinal ultrasonography or MRI: All children with any form of anorectal malformation, even those considered minor, should undergo screening for spinal malformations. These lesions can be diagnosed using ultrasonography prior to the ossification of the spine. Ultrasonography should be performed as early as possible but is not essential prior to a newborn surgical procedure. Due to ossification, the use of ultrasound diminishes after 3-4 months of age, and by 6 months MRI is usually necessary. MRI may be required any time an ultrasound is suggestive or nondiagnostic.
- Lateral pelvic radiography at 24 hours: Children who could not be diagnosed based solely on physical examination findings, traditionally underwent invertography, which consisted of holding the baby upside down and using lateral radiography to observe the level of gas in the distal rectum. A similar, but more humane, approach is to wait 24 hours after birth to observe for possible maximal pelvic pouch distension and then to use cross-table lateral pelvic radiography with a radio-opaque marker on the anal dimple with the child in the prone position and the hips slightly raised. If the pouch is observed within 1 cm of the marker, some surgeons offer primary repair without colostomy. For pouches farther than 1 cm, colostomy is performed. This 1-cm guideline has been validated only using radiographic measurements and is not directly translatable for measurements made using ultrasonography. Currently, perineal ultrasonography has no role in diagnosis.
- Augmented-pressure distal colostography: This is the single most important diagnostic test used to clarify the anatomy in all children with malformations who require colostomy. It is personally performed by the colorectal surgeon in many centers. In a fluoroscopy suite, a balloon catheter is placed into the distal stoma, and the balloon is inflated. The catheter is pulled back, and water-soluble contrast is injected by hand. This pressure is required to overcome the pressure of the levator muscles and to allow the contrast to flow into the lowest part of the colon and reveal any fistula. In patients with a fistula to the urinary tract, the bladder often fills, and the study is continued to obtain as much information as is provided with voiding cystourethrography. If no fistula is present, the distal pouch has a rounded appearance, and no urinary extravasation is visible.
- Voiding cystourethrography or micturating cystourethrography: These studies are not necessary if comprehensive distal colostography is performed. They are not recommended for primary evaluation of children with anorectal malformations because of poor sensitivity compared with that of distal colostography.
- MRI: All children who have sacral defects on plain radiographs should undergo spine ultrasonography to rule out associated malformations, such as meningocele or meningomyelocele, teratoma, or mixed lesions. If ultrasonography findings are suggestive or nondiagnostic, MRI should be performed. All children who have suggestion of tethered cord on ultrasound, a nondiagnostic ultrasound, or have not had an ultrasound and are older than 6 months should undergo MRI.
- CT scanning: CT scanning presently plays no role in the routine evaluation of children with anorectal malformations.
See the list below:
- Anorectal manometry: Although this study has no role in the newborn period, it may be used in older children who suffer from varying degrees of incontinence. However, the findings are primarily of academic interest.
Imperforate anus was historically classified based on the position of the distal-most aspect of the colon in relation to the levator ani muscles. Malformations at or above the levator muscle complex were defined as high anomalies. Infralevator lesions were termed low and were considered simpler and were associated with better prognosis. This system was based on the now obsolete Wingspread classification.
Information obtained from the posterior sagittal approach has led to an anatomic classification that lists malformations based on their specific anatomy. The following is a list of the most common malformations:
- Perineal fistula
- This malformation is associated with good prognosis, occurs in either sex, and involves a closed anus with a small connection opening on the perineal body.
- Some babies with this malformation have a small loop of skin at the anal opening that resembles a bucket-handle. This is pathognomonic for perineal fistula.
- Some boys may have no visible perineal opening but may accumulate mucous or meconium in the fistula, which can extend up the median raphe of the scrotum and resembles a black cord (meconium) or a string of pearls (mucous).
- This malformation is amenable to primary neonatal pull-through.
- Healthy girls who have normal-sized anal openings and small-appearing perineal bodies do not have perineal fistula. This is easily determined by measuring the size of the anus using Hegar dilators. The anus of an average-term newborn should be approximately 12 mm but varies with the size of the child. The "correct" size of the perineum is largely a matter of experience.
- Vestibular fistula
- This malformation is associated with good prognosis and is easily diagnosed upon physical examination based on the appearance of a small opening at the posterior aspect of the vestibule. The opening is external to the hymen and is, therefore, not vaginal.
- The term vaginal fistula was commonly and incorrectly used to describe vestibular fistula. True solitary congenital rectovaginal fistula is exceedingly rare.
- Vestibular fistula is safely treated with diverting colostomy, although some pediatric colorectal surgeons repair this malformation primarily in the newborn period without using colostomy.
- Persistent cloaca is a malformation in females that encompasses a spectrum of defects, including the presence of a common channel that incorporates the urethra, vagina, and rectum.
- The length of the common channel correlates with complexity and prognosis. Shorter channels (< 3 cm) have fewer associated malformations and carry a better prognosis. Longer channels have more complex malformations and poorer prognosis.
- One half of all girls with this malformation have 2 hemivaginas and many have hydrocolpos.
- This malformation is easily diagnosed upon physical examination based on the presence of a solitary perineal orifice. Females with this malformation often have very small-appearing labia.
- All children with cloacae should undergo colostomy shortly after birth.
- Bulbar urethral fistula
- This malformation observed in boys is relatively common.
- No fistula is observed upon physical examination, and urinalysis often shows meconium.
- Colostomy is essential to relieve obstruction, prevent urinary soiling, and to allow for distal colostography, which clarifies the malformation for definitive surgical repair.
- Prostatic urethral fistula
- This malformation observed in boys is rarer than bulbar fistula and carries a poorer prognosis.
- The diagnosis and treatment algorithm are identical to those of bulbar fistula, although the surgical procedures used differ.
- Bladder-neck fistula
- This rare malformation observed in males (10% of all malformations in males) carries a very poor prognosis.
- Most patients with bladder-neck fistula require bowel-management regimens.
- The diagnosis and treatment algorithm are identical to those of bulbar and prostatic fistulas, although the surgical procedures used differ.
- This fistula is best approached abdominally.
- Absent fistula
- This malformation can occur in either sex, is somewhat rare, and is associated with a good prognosis. It is commonly associated with trisomy 21.
- Diagnosis is primarily by exclusion.
- Lateral pelvic radiography is performed in babies who have no external evidence of fistula, who pass no meconium after 24 hours, and who have no meconium in the urine.
- If the pelvic rectal pouch is within 1 cm of the anal dimple, a primary pull-through may be performed. In these instances, a fistula is unlikely but should be definitely excluded using the proper surgical technique.
- If the surgeon opts for colostomy, the absence of a fistula is confirmed using distal colostography.
- Cloacal exstrophy
- This extremely rare malformation can occur in either sex but is most common in boys. It encompasses a spectrum that includes variant forms of covered exstrophy. The classic form is devastatingly complex.
- Affected children have an omphalocele and a large extrophied cloacal plate on their lower abdominal wall. They have 2 hemibladders separated by an intestinal plate, often with prolapsed terminal ileum that proceeds distally to include an extrophied urethral plate flanked by 2 hemiphallic or hemiclitoral structures.
- All children with cloacal exstrophy have some degree of pubic symphysis diastasis and may have a spinal malformation, most commonly myelocystocele.
- Thankfully, this complex malformation is rare but it has devastating implications on quality of life.
Pena A, Devries PA. Posterior sagittal anorectoplasty: important technical considerations and new applications. J Pediatr Surg. 1982 Dec. 17(6):796-811. [Medline].
Beudeker N, Broadis E, Borgstein E, Heij HA. The hidden mortality of imperforate anus. Afr J Paediatr Surg. 2013 Oct-Dec. 10(4):302-6. [Medline].
Mirza B, Ijaz L, Saleem M, Sharif M, Sheikh A. Anorectal malformations in neonates. Afr J Paediatr Surg. 2011 May-Aug. 8(2):151-4. [Medline].
Rosenbaum DG, Kasdorf E, Renjen P, Brill P, Kovanlikaya A. Sling left pulmonary artery with patent type IIA tracheobronchial anomaly and imperforate anus. Clin Imaging. 2014 Sep-Oct. 38(5):743-6. [Medline].
Stathopoulos E, Muehlethaler V, Rais M, Alamo L, Dushi G, Frey P, et al. Preoperative assessment of neurovesical function in children with anorectal malformation: association with vertebral and spinal malformations. J Urol. 2012 Sep. 188(3):943-7. [Medline].
Lee SC, Chun YS, Jung SE, et al. Currarino triad: anorectal malformation, sacral bony abnormality, and presacral mass--a review of 11 cases. J Pediatr Surg. 1997 Jan. 32(1):58-61. [Medline].
[Guideline] Bischoff A, Levitt MA, Bauer C, Jackson L, Holder M, Pena A. Bowel management for fecal incontinence in patients with anorectal malformations. J Pediatr Surg. 2009 Jun. 44(6):1278-83. [Medline].
Tong QS, Tang ST, Pu JR, Mao YZ, Wang Y, Li SW, et al. Laparoscopically assisted anorectal pull-through for high imperforate anus in infants: intermediate results. J Pediatr Surg. 2011 Aug. 46(8):1578-86. [Medline].
Pena A. Anorectal malformations. Semin Pediatr Surg. 1995 Feb. 4(1):35-47. [Medline].
Albanese CT, Jennings RW, Lopoo JB, et al. One-stage correction of high imperforate anus in the male neonate. J Pediatr Surg. 1999 May. 34(5):834-6. [Medline].
Chait PG, Shandling B, Richards HM, Connolly BL. Fecal incontinence in children: treatment with percutaneous cecostomy tube placement--a prospective study. Radiology. 1997 Jun. 203(3):621-4. [Medline].
Chatterjee SK. The value of inversion radiography (invertography) in the assessment of anorectal malformation. J Indian Med Assoc. 1976 Dec 16. 67(12):265-7. [Medline].
De Filippo RE, Shaul DB, Harrison EA, et al. Neurogenic bladder in infants born with anorectal malformations: comparison with spinal and urologic status. J Pediatr Surg. 1999 May. 34(5):825-7; discussion 828. [Medline].
Flageole H, Fecteau A, Laberge JM, Guttman FM. Hirschsprung's disease, imperforate anus, and Down's syndrome: a case report. J Pediatr Surg. 1996 Jun. 31(6):759-60. [Medline].
Fraser R. Imperforate anus: nutritional care. Paediatr Nurs. 1996 Apr. 8(3):16-8. [Medline].
Georgeson KE, Inge TH, Albanese CT. Laparoscopically assisted anorectal pull-through for high imperforate anus--a new technique. J Pediatr Surg. 2000 Jun. 35(6):927-30; discussion 930-1. [Medline].
Golonka NR, Haga LJ, Keating RP, et al. Routine MRI evaluation of low imperforate anus reveals unexpected high incidence of tethered spinal cord. J Pediatr Surg. July 2002. 37:966-969. [Medline].
Heikenen JB, Werlin SL, Di Lorenzo C, et al. Colonic motility in children with repaired imperforate anus. Dig Dis Sci. 1999 Jul. 44(7):1288-92. [Medline].
Hendren WH. Cloaca, the most severe degree of imperforate anus: experience with 195 cases. Ann Surg. 1998 Sep. 228(3):331-46. [Medline].
Hong AR, Acuna MF, Pena A, et al. Urologic injuries associated with repair of anorectal malformations in male patients. J Pediatr Surg. 2002 Mar. 37(3):339-44. [Medline].
Levitt MA, Patel M, Rodriguez G. The tethered spinal cord in patients with anorectal malformations. J Pediatr Surg. 1997. 32(3):462-8.
Levitt MA, Patel M, Rodriguez G, et al. The tethered spinal cord in patients with anorectal malformations. J Pediatr Surg. 1997 Mar. 32(3):462-8. [Medline].
Levitt MA, Stein DM, Pena A. Gynecologic concerns in the treatment of teenagers with cloaca. J Pediatr Surg. 1998 Feb. 33(2):188-93. [Medline].
Moss RL. The failed anoplasty: successful outcome after reoperative anoplasty and sigmoid resection. J Pediatr Surg. 1998 Jul. 33(7):1145-7; discussion 1147-8. [Medline].
Nagar H, Weiss J, Kessler A. Bacterial orchitis in a baby with imperforate anus. Pediatr Radiol. 1998 Sep. 28(9):705. [Medline].
Pena A. Total urogenital mobilization--an easier way to repair cloacas. J Pediatr Surg. 1997. 32(2):263-8. [Medline].
Pena A, Amroch D, Baeza C, et al. The effects of the posterior sagittal approach on rectal function (experimental study). J Pediatr Surg. 1993 Jun. 28(6):773-8. [Medline].
Pena A, el Behery M. Megasigmoid: a source of pseudoincontinence in children with repaired anorectal malformations. J Pediatr Surg. 1993 Feb. 28(2):199-203. [Medline].
Rich MA, Brock WA, Pena A. Spectrum of genitourinary malformations in patients with imperforate anus. Pediatric Surg Intl. 1988. 3:110-113.
Rosen NG, Hong A, Soffer S. Recto-vaginal fistula: a common diagnostic error with significant consequences in girls with anorectal malformations. J Pediatr Surg. 2002. 37(7):961-5.
Shaul DB, Harrison EA. Classification of anorectal malformations--initial approach, diagnostic tests, and colostomy. Semin Pediatr Surg. 1997 Nov. 6(4):187-95. [Medline].
Soffer SZ, Rosen NG, Hong AR, et al. Cloacal exstrophy: a unified management plan. J Pediatr Surg. 2000 Jun. 35(6):932-7. [Medline].
Torres R, Levitt MA, Tovilla JM, Rodriguez G, Pena A. Anorectal malformations and Down's syndrome. J Pediatr Surg. 1998 Feb. 33(2):194-7. [Medline].
Tsakayannis DE, Shamberger RC. Association of imperforate anus with occult spinal dysraphism. J Pediatr Surg. 1995 Jul. 30(7):1010-2. [Medline].
Wang C, Lin J, Lim K. The use of augmented-pressure colostography in imperforate anus. Pediatr Surg Int. 1997 Jul. 12(5-6):383-5. [Medline].