(Imperforate Anus; Anorectal Malfunction)
Pronounced: AY-nal ah-TRE-zhuh
by Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Anal atresia is a problem with the way the anus forms and the part of the intestine leading to the anus. It can make it hard or impossible for the child to pass stool. A child may have:
Anal atresia happens when an unborn baby’s intestines develop the wrong way. The reason why is not known.
Anal atresia is more common in boys. It is also more common in those with other health problems, such as Down syndrome and other birth defects.
Problems may be:
Mild anal atresia may not be found until later in life. It may show as a lack of bowel control by age 3 years.
The doctor will ask about your child's symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done.
Images may be taken. This can be done with:
Surgery may be done to fix anal atresia. The type will depend on the defects that the child has. Examples are:
There are no guidelines to prevent this health problem.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
About Kids Health—The Hospital for Sick Children
Anorectal malformations. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/anorectal-malformations. Accessed November 2, 2020.
Imperforate anus. Cincinnati Children's website. Available at:
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Accessed November 2, 2020.
Gangopadhyay A, Pandey V. Anorectal malformations. J Indian Assoc Pediatr Surg. 2015 Jan-Mar;20(1):10-15.
Last reviewed September 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Kari Kassir, MD
Last Updated: 5/5/2021