Urinary and bowel management in cloacal exstrophy: A long-term multi-institutional cross-sectional study

Pediatric Urology Midwest Alliance (PUMA)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: We sought to evaluate long-term surgical urinary and bowel management in cloacal exstrophy (CE) in a multi-institutional study. Methods: We performed a cross-sectional study of people with CE and covered variants managed at five participating institutions. Those with <1 year follow-up or born with variants without hindgut involvement were excluded. Primary outcomes were methods of urinary and bowel management. Urinary management included: voiding via urethra, clean intermittent catheterizations (CIC), incontinent diversion and incontinent in diaper. Bowel management included: intestinal diversion (colostomy/ileostomy) and pull-through (with/without MACE). We evaluated three age groups: children (<10 years), older children (10 to <18) and adults (≥18). We assessed if management varied by age, institution or time (born≤2000 vs. >2000). Results: A total of 160 patients were included (40% male). Median follow-up was 15.2 years (36% children, 22% older children, 43% adults). While 42% of children were incontinent in diapers, 73% of older children and adults managed their bladder with CIC, followed by incontinent urinary diversion (21%) (p < 0.001, Table). CIC typically occurred after augmentation (88%) via a catheterizable channel (89%). Among older children and adults, 86% did not evacuate urine per urethra and 28% of adults had an incontinent urinary diversion. No child or adult voided per urethra. Age-adjusted odds of undergoing incontinent diversion was no different between institutions (p = 0.31) or based on birthyear (p = 0.08). Most patients (79%) had an intestinal diversion, irrespective of age (p = 0.99). Remaining patients had a pull-through, half with a MACE. The probability of undergoing bowel diversion varied significantly between institutions (range: 55–91%, p = 0.001), but not birth year (p = 0.85). We believe this large long-term data presents a sobering but realistic view of outcomes in CE. A limitation is our data does not assess comorbidities or patient-reported outcomes. Rarity of volitional urethral voiding in CE forces the question of whether is a potentially unachievable goal. We advocate thoughtful surgical decision making and thorough counseling about appropriate expectations, distinguishing between volitional voiding and urinary and fecal dryness. Conclusions: In this long-term, multi-institutional study of patients with CE, 94% of older children and adults manage their bladder with incontinent diversion or CIC. Nearly 80% of patients, regardless of age, have an intestinal diversion. Given that no patients were dry and voided via urethra and 86% of older patients do not evacuate urine per urethra, these data bring into question what functional goals are achievable when performing reconstructive surgery for these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35.e1-35.e6
JournalJournal of Pediatric Urology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2023


  • Cloacal exstrophy
  • Continence
  • OEIS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Urology


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