What is Hirschsprung's disease?
Hirschsprung's (say: "hersh-sprungz") disease is a birth defect that affects the large intestine (bowel). In a normal intestine, nerve cells called ganglion (say: "gang-glee-on") cells tell muscles in the intestine to push stools through the intestine and out of the body. A child who has Hirschsprung's disease is missing these nerve cells in a part of the intestine. As a result, stools do not move properly through the intestine and severe constipation and even bacterial infection can develop. Sometimes the ganglion cells are missing from just a small part of the large intestine near the anus. Other times, the cells may be missing from a large part of the large intestine.
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff