Anal Atresia
all information

Anal Atresia

(Imperforate Anus; Anorectal Malfunction)

Pronounced: AY-nal ah-TRE-zhuh

En Español (Spanish Version)


Anal atresia is a congenital condition in which the opening of the anus is absent or obstructed. Most of the time, anal atresia can be corrected.


Anal atresia is a congenital defect, discovered at birth.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is something that increases your chance of getting a disease or condition.

The following factors increase your child's chance of developing anal atresia. If your child has either of these risk factors, tell your child's doctor:

  • Being born with other birth defects
  • Being male


If your child experience any of these symptoms do not assume it is due to anal atresia. These symptoms may be caused by other, less serious health conditions. If your child experiences any one of them, see your child's physician.

  • No anal opening present at birth
  • Anal opening in the wrong location
  • Baby does not pass the first stool within 24-48 hours after birth
  • Stool being excreted through the vagina, penis, scrotum, or urethra
  • Tight, swollen stomach
  • No bowel control by age 3


Your doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and medical history, and perform a physical exam. Tests may include the following:

  • Physical examination to determine the presence and location of the anus
  • Abdominal x-ray —type of x-ray that uses radiation to take a picture of structures inside the abdomen.
  • Enema—the injection of liquid into the intestine by way of the anus (for cleansing or examination)


Talk with your child's doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include the following:


This is performed to reconstruct the anus.


Temporary surgical procedure to help rid the body of waste until the condition can be corrected. In this procedure, the rectum is closed-off and a stoma (an opening) is made in the abdomen so that waste can pass through it and into a colostomy bag.

Temporary Colostomy of an Infant

exh5756b_97870_1_colostomy infant.jpg

© 2008 Nucleus Medical Art, Inc.


Because it is a congenital birth defect, there is no known way to prevent anal atresia.


National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities

US National Library of Medicine


About Kids Health

British Columbia Ministry of Health


California Birth Defects Monitoring Program website. Available at: . Accessed December 18, 2006.

Scott, J, Swenson O. Imperforate anus: results in 63 cases and some anatomical considerations. Tufts University Medical School publication website Available at: . Accessed December 18, 2006.

Last reviewed February 2008 by Daus Mahnke, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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