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Cloacal exstrophy is a severe birth defect of the lower abdominal organs. A baby with cloacal exstrophy is born with several abdominal structures outside of the body, including the bladder and part of the large intestine. In boys, the penis is usually flat and short with the inner surface of the urethra exposed on top. Sometimes the penis is split. Girls may have a split clitoris and may have one or two vaginal openings. The intestine may be short and typically there is no anus present.
Cloacal exstrophy is rare. It occurs once in 250,000 births and is slightly more common in males.
No one knows what causes cloacal exstrophy and there is no known way to prevent it. Nothing the mother did or did not do during pregnancy causes the condition. Experts do not know whether heredity is a factor in cloacal exstrophy because it is rare.
Four components of cloacal exstrophy are frequently present:
Experts may see cloacal exstrophy before birth, during a routine ultrasound; doctors can then confirm the diagnosis at birth.
Experts perform major reconstructive surgery in separate stages – often starting within the first few days of the baby's life.
Medical science has made significant progress in helping children with cloacal exstrophy. It is a serious condition requiring many surgeries. How much the condition affects a child's life depends on the severity of the original condition. For many children, the long-term outcome is good for many children.
If your child has been diagnosed, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices.