Hirschsprung's Disease results from a lack of nerve cells in the bottom part of the colon or large intestine. This prevents the colon from emptying normally and results is backing up of gas and stools in the colon.
Children are born with the disease and the first sign in a newborn is often the delay in passing stools for the first few days of life. Other symptoms include, abdominal distension and constipation.
Sometimes there is a delay in the diagnosis and children with longstanding constipation may require surgical referral for possible Hirschsprung's Disease.
The condition is diagnosed with a biopsy of the rectum to help identify the presence of normal nerve cells. Hirschsprung's is diagnosed if the nerve cells are absent/missing.
Surgery is required to treat Hirschsprung's Disease and your child may require a single or multiple operations. The aim of the surgery is to remove the segment of abnormal bowel without nerve cells and connect the normal bowel to the anal canal. This will allow stools to pass out of the anal canal spontaneously. Even with successful surgery some children still require long term medical management to allow them to pass stools without difficulty.