What is Cloacal Exstrophy?

Sometimes the bladder doesn’t develop properly, as is the case for children with cloacal exstrophy. This is the most severe birth defect of the lower abdominal organs.

A child with cloacal exstrophy is born with the bladder and a part of the intestines open to the outside. The bony pelvis is also split open like a book. In males the penis is either flat and short or sometimes split. In females the clitoris is split and there may be two vaginal openings. The intestine may be short and the anus may not open.

With this condition there are often other birth defects, like spina bifida. This occurs in up to 75 percent of cases. Kidney abnormalities and omphalocele are also common. An omphalocele is when an infant's intestine or other abdominal organs are open to the outside the body. This is from a hole in the belly button (navel) area. The intestines are covered only by a thin layer of tissue and can be easily seen.

If your newborn has been diagnosed with this condition, there is a lot to learn. The information here should help you talk with your child's doctor and plan for the future.

How often does it occur?

This is a rare condition. It occurs in about one in every 250,000 births. It is slightly more common in males than females.