Female infants born with persistant cloaca have a fused common canal for the vagina, urethra and rectum. In more than 90% of cases, children born with this condition have difficulty maintaining good urinary health. The distance from the opening to the fusion of the three canals is a determining factor in surgical treatment.
In cases where the common canal, as it is referred to, is longer than 3 cm, surgical repair could be more difficult as the rectum and urethra may not have developed enough to control bowel and urine function. In cases of a shorter common canal, such as those less than 3 cm in length, the individual canals may have developed enough to allow for repair in fewer surgeries with a better outcome. Persistant cloaca appears in about 1 in 20,000 infants and requires surgery in nearly every case.
The condition is evident from birth as the rectum is not present.