Anorectal malformations are a wide spectrum of birth defects in the development of the lowest portion of the intestines including the rectum and anus, and often also involve the urinary tract. Children with these problems are often said to have an imperforate anus – meaning the anus is not open. While this is correct, the condition is far more complex than this. When a malformation of the anus is present, the muscles and nerves associated with the anus are also not well formed. Children with these defects may also have further problems with other organs including their heart, spine and kidneys.
Each child with an ARM is individually assessed and their surgery is planned accordingly. Different surgeries are performed for different types of abnormalities. Some children only require a single surgery but often multiple surgeries are required to repair an ARM.
While careful surgery is required to achieve the best outcome, it must be noted that no adequate repair for poorly developed muscles or nerves has been developed. Some children can achieve continence for stools with surgery only, but often children require a long term bowel-management program including laxatives and enemas to achieve continence. Dr Stevens will assist your child and you as a family in the long term to help your child to achieve the best possible quality of life even when primary continence is not achievable.