For most people, Hirschsprung's disease is treated with surgery to bypass or remove the part of the colon that's lacking nerve cells. There are two ways this can be done: a pull-through surgery or an ostomy surgery.
In this procedure, the lining of the diseased part of the colon is stripped away. Then, the normal section is pulled through the colon from the inside and attached to the anus. This is usually done using minimally invasive (laparoscopic) methods, operating through the anus.
In children who are very ill, surgery might be done in two steps.
First, the abnormal portion of the colon is removed and the top, healthy portion of the colon is connected to an opening the surgeon creates in the child's abdomen. Stool then leaves the body through the opening into a bag that attaches to the end of the intestine that protrudes through the hole in the abdomen (stoma). This allows time for the lower part of the colon to heal.
Once the colon has had time to heal, a second procedure is done to close the stoma and connect the healthy portion of the intestine to the rectum or anus.
Results of surgery
After surgery, most children are able to pass stool through the anus.
Possible complications that may improve with time include:
- Leaking stool (fecal incontinence)
- Delays in toilet training
Children also continue to be at risk of developing a bowel infection (enterocolitis) after surgery, especially in the first year. Call the doctor immediately if any of the signs and symptoms of enterocolitis occur, such as:
- Bleeding from the rectum
- Swollen abdomen