Prenatal counseling for cloaca and cloacal exstrophy-challenges faced by pediatric surgeons

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Pediatric Surgery International








Anorectal malformation; Cloaca; Cloacal exstrophy; Covered exstrophy; Posterior cloaca; Prenatal diagnosis


Introduction With the advance of prenatal imaging, more often pediatric surgeons are called for prenatal counseling in suspected cases of cloaca or cloacal exstrophy. This presents new challenges for pediatric surgeons since no specific guidelines have been established so far. The purpose of this review is to analyze our experience in prenatally diagnosed cloaca or cloacal exstrophy and to provide some guidelines for prenatal counseling of these complex congenital anomalies. Methods A retrospective review of the medical charts of patients with prenatally diagnosed cloaca and cloacal exstrophy who received postnatal care in our institution between July 2005 and March 2012 was performed. Representative images of prenatal studies were selected from 13 cases to illustrate different scenarios and the recommendations given. In addition, a review of the literature was performed to support our advice to parents. Results Eleven patients were female and two patients were male. The postnatal diagnoses were cloacal exstrophy (6), cloaca (5), posterior cloaca variant (1), and covered cloacal exstrophy (1). The selected abnormal prenatal imaging findings in these 13 patients included hydronephrosis (12), neural tube defect (8), omphalocele (7), lack of meconium at expected rectal location (7), vertebral anomaly (7), non-visualize bladder (5), distended bladder (5), hydrocolpos (4), dilated or echogenic bowel (3), umbilical cord cyst (3), separated pubic bones (2), and the ''elephant trunk'' sign (2). The prenatal diagnosis was correct in 10 cases, partially correct in two cases, and it was missed in one case. All parents received prenatal counseling depending on the specific diagnosis. Conclusion The continuous technologic innovations in prenatal imaging make it possible to prenatally diagnose more complex anomalies including cloaca and cloacal exstrophy with increased levels of confidence and enhance the benefit of prenatal counseling. Together, these allow the parents to be better prepared for the condition and the care team to provide the best possible initial management in order to improve the outcomes of these challenging patients. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

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