Anorectal malformations associated spinal cord anomalies

Giorgia Totonelli, Francesco Morini, Vincenzo Davide Catania, Paolo Maria Schingo, Giovanni Mosiello, Paolo Palma, Barbara Daniela Iacobelli, Pietro Bagolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The present study aims to identify clinical and pathological factors that can predict the risk of spinal cord anomalies (SCA) in patients with anorectal malformations (ARM), the need for neurosurgery, and to define the impact of SCA on the outcome of patients with ARM. Methods: A 16-year retrospective analysis of all patients treated at a single tertiary children’s Hospital with diagnosis of ARM. Data were collected to assess the impact of defined clinical characteristics on prevalence of SCA (detected at MRI). Children surgically treated or not for SCA were compared for age, clinical symptoms and type of anomalies at surgery or at last follow-up, respectively. Moreover, patients with intermediate/high ARMs, with or without SCA were compared for neurogenic bladder (NB), constipation, soiling and need for bowel management (BM). Results: Two hundred and seventy-five children were treated for ARM in the study period, 142 had spinal MRI that showed SCA in 85. Patients with SCA had significantly higher prevalence of preterm birth (p <0.05), cardiac anomalies (p = 0.02), vertebral anomalies (p = 0.0075), abnormal sacrum (p <0.0001), and VACTERL association (p = 0.0233). Ten patients were surgically treated for SCA. The prevalence of neurological bladder and neuro-motor deficits, of vertebral and genital anomalies, particularly cryptorchidism, was significantly higher in the operated group (p <0.01, for each analysis). In patients with intermediate/high ARMs, no significant difference was observed between those with or without SCA, in terms of prevalence of NB, intestinal function and need for BM. Conclusions: In patients with ARM, factors that can predict a higher prevalence of SCA and also determine an increased indication to neurosurgery may be identified. SCA by itself does not seem to affect the functional prognosis of children with intermediate/high ARM. These data may help physicians in stratifying the clinical and diagnostic pathway of patients with ARM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Surgery International
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jul 2 2016


  • Anorectal malformations
  • Bowel function
  • Cryptorchidism
  • Neurogenic bladder
  • Spinal cord anomalies
  • Spinal dysraphism
  • Tethered cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Surgery


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