Important Information to Know During Our Campus Transformation — Read More

Rady Children's Specialists

Cloacal Exstrophy

What is cloacal exstrophy?

Cloacal exstrophy is an extremely rare condition in which a baby is born with the bladder and part of the intestine protruding out of the abdominal wall.

What are signs and symptoms of cloacal exstrophy?

Cloacal exstrophy is identified immediately after birth as the bladder and intestine are visible outside of the body.  It occasionally is found on prenatal ultrasound. It is usually associated with other problems such as spinal deformities and poorly formed bowel that prevent adequate nutritional uptake. The anus may be imporforate (not fully formed) and in a male the penis may be small and split into 2 halves.

How common is cloacal exstrophy?

Cloacal exstrophy is extremely rare and occurs in about 1 in 400,000 births.

How is cloacal exstrophy diagnosed and what additional tests are necessary?

Cloacal exstrophy can be diagnosed on prenatal ultrasound and confirmed on physical exam after birth. After birth a spinal ultrasound will also be performed to look for spinal abnormalities.

How is cloacal exstrophy treated?

After birth the exposed intestine is separated from the bladder and usually an ostomy is formed. This is where the intestine is brought to the skin and drained into a bag. In later procedures, the bladder will be reconstructed and genitalia will be reconstructed. Every child will require different surgical procedures at different times as each child is unique. Your surgeon will talk to you about details of surgical reconstruction.