Hirschsprung’s disease Treatment
Hirschsprung’s disease (HIRSH-sproongz) is a condition that affects the large intestine (colon) and causes difficulty passing feces. The problem is present at birth (congenital) due to a lack of nerve cells in the baby’s colon muscles. If nerve cells do not stimulate gut muscles to help move contents through the colon, the contents can back up and produce bowel blockages.
A newborn who has Hirschsprung’s disease usually can’t have a bowel movement in the days after birth. In mild cases, the condition might not be detected until later in childhood. Unfortunately, Hirschsprung’s disease is first diagnosed in adults.
Surgery to bypass or remove the diseased part of the colon is the treatment.
Signs and symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease vary with the severity of the condition. Usually signs and symptoms appear shortly after birth, but sometimes they’re not apparent until later in life.
Typically, the most obvious sign is a newborn’s failure to have a bowel movement within 48 hours after birth.
Other signs and symptoms in newborns may include:
- Swollen belly
- Vomiting, including vomiting a green or brown substance
- Constipation or gas, which might make a newborn fussy
- Delayed passage of meconium — a newborn’s first bowel movement
In older children, signs and symptoms can include:
- Swollen belly
- Chronic constipation
- Failure to thrive
It is unknown what causes Hirschsprung’s disease. It can occur in families and, in some situations, be linked to a genetic mutation.
Hirschsprung’s illness develops when nerve cells in the colon do not fully mature. Colon nerves control muscle contractions that carry food through the intestines. Stool remains in the large intestine in the absence of contractions.
Factors that may increase the risk of Hirschsprung’s disease include:
Having a sibling who has Hirschsprung’s disease. Hirschsprung’s disease can be inherited. If you have one child who has the condition, future biological siblings could be at risk.
Being male. Hirschsprung’s disease is more common in males.
Having other inherited conditions. Hirschsprung’s disease is associated with certain inherited conditions, such as Down syndrome and other abnormalities present at birth, such as congenital heart disease.
Hirschsprung’s disease patients are predisposed to a dangerous intestinal infection known as enterocolitis. Enterocolitis can be fatal and must be treated right away.