Children's Hospital Colorado
Sandy and Karsang talk to Gabriela and Adrian

Cloaca Diagnosis and Treatment Decisions

Understanding anorectal malformations

Hearing that your baby has a malformation can be frightening. Some women may learn that their baby has this condition during pregnancy, and some may not find out until after their baby is born. These families share how they found out their baby had cloaca and how they handled the news.

Anorectal malformation overview

Anorectal malformations are defects that occur during the fifth to seventh week of fetal development. An anorectal malformation is a condition in which the anus (opening at the end of the large intestine through which stool passes) and the rectum (area of the large intestine just above the anus) do not develop properly.

Learn more about anorectal malformations

What is cloaca?

Cloaca is a malformation that affects the rectum and urogenital tract in females. Females are normally born with three perineal openings: urethra, vagina and anus. Children born with a cloacal anomaly only have one opening because the urethra, vagina and rectum are joined together as a common channel instead of three separate ones. The length of the common channel may vary between 1 cm and 10 cm.

Our surgical expertise

Our surgeons have specialized expertise in treating anorectal malformations, such as cloaca. Our team is led by Alberto Peña, MD, an internationally renowned pediatric colorectal surgeon, who transformed colorectal treatment by introducing the posterior sagittal anorectoplasty (PSARP), also known as the pull-through, procedure.

600 Number of cloaca surgeries our doctors have performed
74 Number of countries Dr. Peña's patients come from
2,500+ Number of pull-through procedures our doctors have performed
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Find a doctor

Browse and connect with world-class colorectal and urogenital surgeons at Children's Colorado.

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Meet more patients

Read inspiring stories about other patients born with an anorectal malformation and how they persevered.

See their stories
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Helpful resources

Our International Center for Colorectal and Urogenital Care is home to world-renowned surgeons, Alberto Peña, MD, and Andrea Bischoff, MD.

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Sandy listens to Gabriela talk about cloaca

"The important thing was that they diagnosed her and referred us to the right place."

Sandy, Tashi's mom


Partnership with the University of Colorado School of Medicine

Children's Hospital Colorado partners with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where many of our physicians and care providers serve as faculty.