Medical Definition of Cloaca

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Cloaca: A common passageway for feces, urine and reproduction.

At one point in the development of the human embryo, there is a cloaca. It is the far end of a structure called the hindgut. This structure then divides to form a rectum, a bladder, and genitalia.

The presence of a cloaca is normal in many adult animals (birds, reptiles, amphibians, some fish, and even a few mammals). However, the persistence of a persistent cloaca in a person is a birth defect (a congenital malformation).

Cloaca is the Latin word for drain or sewer.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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