Anal dilation is a safe after-care procedure often done for children two to four weeks after they have had surgery to correct an anorectal malformation.
Children with an anorectal malformation are born without an anal opening or the anus is misplaced, therefore, it is difficult for stool to leave the body. Many times after surgery, the body wants to close a surgical wound so it will heal. Anal dilation is needed to keep the child’s newly created anus open to the right size.
Anal dilation is typically done twice a day with a metal Hegar dilator that will slowly stretch (dilate) the anus. This should not be painful for the child.
When the child reaches the goal size of anal dilations, they will be able to have surgery to close the colostomy (if there is one) and will no longer need the colostomy bag. The child may still need anal dilations after this surgery for many more weeks, but not as often as before. The dilation schedule will slowly decrease (taper) until it is no longer needed.