Hirschsprung’s Disease

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What is Hirschsprung’s disease?

Hirschsprung's disease affects the colon of infants and is present from birth. This condition occurs when the large intestine is blocked due to poor muscle movement in the bowel. The nerves that aid in the muscle contractions needed for digestion are missing. As a result, the parts of the bowel without these nerves fail to push through digested food and a blockage results. 

What are the symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease?

  • An obstruction of the large intestines
  • Abdomen distention
  • Bloody or watery diarrhea
  • Little weight gain
  • Poor feeding
  • Problems with bowel movements, such as failure to pass a first stool 24 to 48 hours after birth
  • Vomiting

How is Hirschsprung’s disease diagnosed?

  • Abdominal X-rays
  • Manometry to inflate a small balloon inside the rectum to test if the muscles relax
  • Biopsy to extract a small piece of the large intestine and review it under a microscope

What is the treatment for Hirschsprung’s disease?

Surgery is required to remove the diseased section of the intestine and replace it with healthy tissue.

In pull-through surgery, the segment of intestine without the specialized nerves is removed and the segment of intestine that has been shown by biopsy to be normal is then pulled down to the anus. This can be done with minimally invasive surgical techniques, with laparoscopy, or sometimes entirely through the anus with no scars at all.