Colorectal and Pelvic Anomalies Program

Complex colorectal and pelvic conditions can affect bowel and bladder control. Children may experience frequent accidents impacting their self-esteem, social life and emotional health. But there’s hope for happier days at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Our colorectal program is among a few of its kind in the Western U.S. Your child will benefit from multiple experts who provide comprehensive care. We also offer specialized services, including bowel management, which can improve your child’s quality of life. We are helping more children reclaim an active, joyful childhood.

Colorectal Program: Why Choose Us

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is among the few places in Southern California where you’ll find pediatric experts specializing in complex colorectal disease. We recognize the impact that these conditions and fecal incontinence can have on your family, and we’re here to help.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Comprehensive care: Your child has access to the full range of colorectal services, including surgery to repair anorectal malformations. If a previous procedure was not successful, we offer revision surgery to correct it. Some children with colorectal disease also have urologic issues, including urinary incontinence. Our team includes urologists who use leading techniques to treat these symptoms.
  • Nationally recognized services: CHLA is one of the top pediatric gastroenterology and gastro intestinal surgery programs in the Western U.S. We have a high success rate for treating some of the most complex conditions. And our commitment to using the best care methods helps your child have a safe care experience.
  • Team approach: CHLA is home to highly skilled pediatric colorectal disease specialists. Our team includes general surgeons, urologists, gastroenterologists, spina bifida experts and a nurse practitioner. The team is in regular communication, which keeps your child’s treatment coordinated and moving forward.
  • Advanced testing: We quickly assess complicated cases with assistance from a gastroenterologist specializing in motility. This area of expertise focuses on the muscles that aid digestion and bowel movements. Urology specialists offer sophisticated testing, such as urodynamic studies, to assess your child’s ability to urinate.
  • Ongoing support: Our friendly team is easy to talk to, so there’s no need to feel embarrassed about what you or your child are experiencing. Team members and social workers help you address challenges and come up with solutions. We are available between appointments, so your family can get the support you need.

Complex Colorectal Disease and Fecal Incontinence in Children

Complex colorectal disease is a group of conditions that affect the colon (large intestine) or rectum (end of the large intestine). The rectum collects and stores stool until your child eliminates it through a bowel movement.

Surgery can treat some anorectal malformations, including imperforate anus, cloaca and Hirschsprung’s disease. But even after successful surgery, children may need help with bowel management. They may continue to have frequent accidents (fecal incontinence) or difficulty emptying the rectum. Specialists at the CHLA Colorectal Program offer a range of services that can help.

Children with complex colorectal diseases often have urologic issues, including hydronephrosis and urinary incontinence. Our team helps manage these issues using medical and surgical techniques when necessary. We coordinate services, which often combines multiple procedures in one operation.

Outpatient Bowel Management Program

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is the largest program in California with an outpatient pediatric bowel management program. We use a family-centered approach to help children gain better bowel control. An experienced nurse practitioner tailors services to your child’s needs.

The program includes:

  • Botox injections to relax overactive muscles in the bladder or bowels
  • Bowel motility testing
  • Colon-cleaning therapies, including a variety of enemas and procedures
  • Imaging and other testing to monitor progress
  • Medications that support bowel functioning
  • Parent education and support
  • Pelvic floor physical therapy to improve strength and control of muscles that enable urination and bowel movements
  • Urodynamics and biofeedback
  • Virtual visits for follow-up appointments

How the Colorectal Program Can Help Your Child

Our expertise draws patients from great distances. We frequently care for children with fecal incontinence due to:

  • Cloaca: An abnormal connection between bowel and urinary systems
  • Cloacal exstrophy, bladder exstrophy, epispadias: Conditions in which the bladder and bowel are outside the body
  • Functional constipation: Hard stools that are difficult to pass
  • Hirschsprung’s disease: Nerves that help control part of the intestines are missing
  • Imperforate anus: Opening of the anus is missing or not in the correct position
  • Spina bifida: Spinal cord does not form correctly before birth
  • Other conditions affecting bladder and bowel control

Additional services and therapies for children with colorectal and pelvic diseases

As a nationally recognized children’s hospital, CHLA offers more of the services your child needs to heal. Care may include treatment and recommendations from additional specialists representing:

Awards and Recognition

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles provides leading-edge pediatric care. Recognition of our care quality includes:

U.S. News & World Report rankings

CHLA has consistently ranked among the top pediatric hospitals nationwide since U.S. News & World Report created the Best Children’s Hospitals program in 1990. This year, we are:

  • Top-ranked children’s hospital in California
  • No. 5 on the Best Children’s Hospitals Honor Roll
  • Top-ranked in California for pediatric gastroenterology and gastrointestinal surgery

Convenient Access to Complex Colorectal Disease Care

Our coordinated approach helps your child get the most out of clinic visits. Appointments may include meeting with multiple specialists who work together to plan the next steps of care before the appointment is over.