Children's Hospital Colorado

Cloaca Diagnosis and Treatment Decisions

Contact our Center for Colorectal and Urogenital Care


Understanding anorectal malformations

Hearing that your baby has an anorectal malformation can be frightening. 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

Our families discuss their diagnosis

Some women may learn that their baby has an anorectal malformation like cloaca 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.

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, who transformed colorectal treatment by introducing the posterior sagittal anorectoplasty (PSARP), also known as the pull-through, procedure.

Read about colorectal procedures

What are anorectal malformations?

An anorectal malformation, like cloaca, is a condition that affects a baby’s ability to have a bowel movement. Learn how we treat these conditions in our International Center for Colorectal Care.

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

Additional patient resources

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.