Laparoscopy and its use in the repair of anorectal malformations

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Pediatric Surgery








Anorectal malformation; Imperforate anus; Laparoscopy


Introduction: Laparoscopy has been used for the treatment of anorectal malformations (ARMs) in an attempt to be less invasive and with the hope that it would result in a better functional outcome. There remains a significant debate about whether these expectations have been fulfilled. Methods: Seventeen patients with ARM for whom laparoscopy was used were retrospectively reviewed. Six were operated on primarily by the authors, and 11 cases were referred after a laparoscopic repair performed elsewhere. In addition, a literature review was performed looking for evidence of less invasiveness and improved functional results in patients operated on laparoscopically. Results: The diagnosis was imperforate anus with a rectobladder neck fistula in our 6 cases with the fistula ligated laparoscopically in each case. In 1 patient, the malformation was repaired entirely using laparoscopic technique. The other 5 patients had a laparoscopically assisted repair because we had to open the abdomen to taper a dilated rectum in 2, mobilize a very high rectum in 2, and take down a distal colostomy stoma in 1. Eleven patients were referred with a variety of problems after a laparoscopic repair done elsewhere for rectal stricture (5), rectal prolapse (4), recurrent rectourethral fistula (3), rectal mislocation (3), failed attempted repair leading to fecal incontinence (1), and a posterior urethral diverticulum (1). Our literature review included 47 references (involving 323 patients) published between 1998 and 2010. All studies showed that laparoscopic repair of ARMs is feasible. The review, however, did not provide evidence of less invasiveness or improved functional results. Conclusions: Laparoscopy for ARM is a less invasive procedure when compared with those operations that would have previously required a laparotomy (rectobladder neck fistula). In cases of rectoprostatic fistulae, the laparoscopic approach is feasible and avoids a lengthy posterior sagittal incision. There is no evidence that the laparoscopic approach is a less invasive procedure for other types of ARMs. In cases of rectobulbar fistula, congenital anal stenosis, perineal fistula, ARM without fistula, the evidence suggests that it may be lead to more complications. There is no evidence in the literature demonstrating better functional results in cases of ARM operated on laparoscopically. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.

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