Hirschsprung’s Disease | Treatment

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How is Hirschsprung's disease treated?

Surgery is the only proven way to treat Hirschsprung's disease. The surgeon will remove the part of the intestine that is missing ganglion cells and will reattach the healthy intestine to the anus. After your child heals, he or she will have a functioning intestine.

For children who have been very ill, two surgeries may be needed. In the first surgery, called a colostomy, the surgeon will remove the area of the intestine that is missing the ganglion cells. The surgeon then creates a small hole (called a stoma) in your child's abdomen. The top part of the intestine is then attached to the stoma. For a while, stool leaves the body into a collection bag attached to the stoma while the rest of the intestine heals. In a second operation, the surgeon will connect the healed intestine to the anus and sew the stoma closed.

What will my child's life be like after surgery?

Most children have normal lives after surgery. Some children may have diarrhea. Other children may have problems passing stools. Eating foods that are high in fiber can help reduce constipation.

Some children develop infections in their bowels after surgery. These infections can be serious, so call your doctor immediately if your child develops the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Fatigue or sluggishness
  • Blood in the stool

The large intestine collects water and salt that the body needs. If your child has to have a large portion of the intestine removed, it will absorb less. Your child will need to eat and drink more to make sure his of her body gets enough fluids.

Source

Hirschsprung's Disease: Diagnosis and Management by J Kessmann, M.D. (American Family Physician October 15, 2006, http://www.aafp.org/afp/20061015/1319.html)

Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 03/14
Created: 12/06

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