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Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

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VACTERL association

Other Names for this Disease
  • VATER association
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Tests & Diagnosis

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Is genetic testing available for VACTERL association?

Because there is no known cause of VACTERL association, clinical genetic testing is not available for the condition. If an individual has a specific diagnosis of another syndrome or genetic condition in addition to the features of VACTERL association, genetic testing may be available for that condition.

GeneTests lists the names of laboratories that are performing genetic testing for VACTERL association. Although no clinical laboratories are listed for this condition, there are some research laboratories performing genetic testing; to see a list of these laboratories, click here. Please note: Most of the laboratories listed through GeneTests do not accept direct contact from patients and their families; therefore, if you are interested in learning more, you will need to work with a health care provider or a genetics professional.
Last updated: 12/25/2010

How is VACTERL association diagnosed?

Prenatal diagnosis of VACTERL association can be challenging because certain component features of the condition can be difficult to detect prior to birth. Therefore, the diagnosis of VACTERL association is typically based on features that are seen when a baby is born or in the first few days of life. The diagnosis is based on having at least three of the following features (which make up the acronym VACTERL): vertebral defects, commonly accompanied by rib anomalies; imperforate anus or anal atresia; cardiac (heart) defects; tracheo-esophageal fistula with or without esophageal atresia; renal (kidney) anomalies including renal agenesis, horseshoe kidney, and cystic and/or dysplastic kidneys; and limb abnormalities.[1]

Additional types of abnormalities have also been reported in affected individuals and may be used as clues in considering a diagnosis of other conditions with overlapping features. Depending on the features present, some other conditions that may be considered when diagnosing a child who has features of VACTERL association (differential diagnosis) may include Baller-Gerold syndrome, CHARGE syndrome, Currarino disease, 22q11.2 microdeletion syndrome, Fanconi anemia, Feingold syndrome, Fryns syndrome, MURCS association, oculo-auriculo-vertebral spectrum, Opitz G/BBB syndrome, Pallister-Hall syndrome, Townes-Brocks syndrome, and VACTERL with hydrocephalus.[1]
Last updated: 7/7/2013

  1. Benjamin Solomon. VACTERL/VATER association. Orphanet. December 2011; Accessed 7/5/2013.