The Mullerian Black Box: Predicting and defining Mullerian anatomy in patients with cloacal abnormalities and the need for longitudinal assessment

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Pediatric Surgery








Cloaca; intra-operative evaluation; Mullerian anomalies; radiologic correlation


© 2018 Introduction: Most patients with a cloacal malformation have a Mullerian anomaly. We sought to examine our patients with a cloacal malformation to determine the proportion of them we felt we knew their Mullerian anatomy and which proportion we felt would most benefit from longitudinal assessment to define their anatomy, reproductive potential, and risk of outflow tract obstruction after puberty. We also compared the preoperative assessment of reproductive anatomy (pelvic ultrasound, MRI, cloacagram, and vaginoscopy) and intra-operative abdominal findings (at the time of primary cloacal reconstruction or subsequent abdominal procedures) to see how these correlated with and which preoperative assessment tool was most predictive of intraoperative anatomy. We also sought to confirm what we expected to be a lack of ovarian pathology. Methods: A single site retrospective chart review was performed on all patients with a cloacal anomaly seen between May 2014 and September 2017. Preoperative assessment (pelvic ultrasound, MRI, cloaca gram, and vaginoscopy) and operative reports (both primary reconstruction and later abdominal procedures) were reviewed to ascertain Mullerian and ovarian anatomy. Results: 30 of 36 (83%) of patients had defined Mullerian anatomy after preoperative assessment (pelvic ultrasound, MRI, cloacagram, and vaginoscopy) with or without the addition intraoperative assessment of Mullerian structures obtained during laparoscopy or laparotomy. 19/30 (63%) had duplication of their Mullerian structures. 25/36 (69%) had intraoperative assessment of Mullerian anatomy during laparoscopy or laparotomy. In this group, preoperative assessment with pelvic ultrasound correlated in 4/8 patients (50%), MRI correlated in 3/4 patients (75%), cloacagram in 10/15 patients (67%), and vaginoscopy in 23/25 patients (92%). 14/36 (39%) patients were found to require longitudinal assessment to define anatomy, reproductive potential or risk of outflow tract obstruction after puberty. Patients with ovarian findings described at the time of laparoscopy or laparotomy had no evidence of ovarian pathology. Conclusions: The majority of patients with cloaca in our series (83%) had their Mullerian anatomy defined by either preoperative assessment and/or findings at the time of laparoscopy or laparotomy. Duplication of the vagina and uterus was the most commonly described Mullerian anatomy (63%) in our series. Vaginoscopy appears to be superior to pelvic ultrasound, MRI, and cloacagram in predicting Mullerian anatomy. Fourteen of our 36 (39%) patients will require longitudinal assessment follow for reproductive potential and/or risk of outflow tract obstruction after puberty as their Mullerian anatomy is not known. There was no evidence of ovarian pathology in any cloaca patient. While we felt as though we could define Mullerian anatomy in most of our patients, any opportunity for intraoperative assessment of Mullerian anatomy should be utilized and therefore teams who are involved in the management of these patients must have a systematic and collaborative method established to ensure that Mullerian structures are thoroughly evaluated intra-operatively and documented in a standardized fashion. Type of study: Retrospective Chart review. Level of Evidence: III.

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