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Hirschsprung’s disease: what it is, symptoms and treatment

by Alivia Nyhan
Published: Last Updated on

A few hours after being born, some children have problems evacuating feces from the body, so it is necessary to know the origin and causes that can produce this alteration. Newborns who suffer from it cannot evacuate due to a congenital problem caused by a condition in the nerve cells found in the intestines. The only way to realize the existence of this alteration is from birth. It is when the characteristic signs and symptoms of this disease become evident. In the following FastlyHealarticle, we will talk about Hirschsprung’s disease: what it is, its symptoms, and its treatment.

What is Hirschsprung’s disease?

It is a congenital disease presented by newborn babies consisting of the alteration of the large intestine product of the lack of neurons at the level of the muscles of the baby’s colon, which causes the inability to evacuate. This occurs when some nerve cells usually found in the intestine do not form correctly during the development of the fetus during pregnancy.

Physiologically, as the food is digested, it is displaced by the muscles through the intestines, a movement known as peristalsis. There are nerve cells present in the walls of the intestines, and, when eating, these cells receive signals from the brain for the intestinal muscles to push food.

This disease occurs due to the lack of these cells in a portion of the intestine, which interrupts the nerve transmission of the brain and prevents the peristaltic movement from taking place at the intestinal level. For this reason, the stool cannot be displaced. This results in a partial or total obstruction. The alterations will appear in children who suffer from this disease depending on the portion of the intestine where the normal nerve cells are found.

Hirschsprung’s disease: symptoms

The symptoms that occur in Hirschsprung’s disease depend on the severity of the disorder and usually appear shortly after birth. The most apparent thing in newborns is the inability to evacuate. This occurs within 48 hours after delivery. In addition to this, it can also occur in the newborn:

  • Increase in volume in the abdomen.
  • Green or brown vomiting.
  • Diarrhea or constipation accompanied by gas can make the baby very irritable.

In older children, the following may occur:

  • Increase in volume at the abdominal level.
  • The presence of gases.
  • Constipation.
  • Fatigue.
  • Growth disorder.

In cases where the symptoms of this disease go unnoticed, it can even advance into adolescence or adulthood, altering the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients it needs. Due to this, growth can be delayed in older children.

Hirschsprung’s disease: causes

Doctors specializing in this matter are unclear why some children suffer from this disease. They know that it is hereditary and more frequent in males than females. These data are obtained according to studies carried out by Stanford Children’s Health [1].

The causes capable of triggering this disease are still unknown. It is thought that it is related to a genetic mutation in many cases. What is certain is that when the nerve cells in the colon are not fully formed, the disease occurs.

Diagnosis of Hirschsprung’s disease

The diagnosis should be made in the shortest time possible through medical examination, clinical history, and specialized studies to evaluate the infant with the symptoms; Most patients are easily diagnosed early in infancy. Among the tests that are usually performed to diagnose this disorder are:

  • Simple abdominal X-ray: this study shows the presence of stool at the level of the intestine and the presence of intestinal obstruction.
  • Barium enema: This study is carried out to check the large intestine to detect any alteration; With this test, a substance called barium is introduced through the rectum. Its consistency is similar to plaster. It is used to coat the interior of the organs so that they appear on an x-ray.
  • Rectal aspiration biopsy: this study can report the absence of ganglion cells.
  • Rectal Manometry: this test can indicate the relaxation of the internal anal sphincter. In this way, an abnormal innervation is established. A full-thickness biopsy makes the definitive diagnosis of the rectum or colon to detect the extension of the disease, and then surgical treatment should be planned.

Treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease

The treatment for Hirschsprung’s disease should be prescribed by your doctor and usually is determined by the following factors:

  • According to the extent of the problem.
  • It will depend on the age of the patient, his general condition, in addition to the medical history of the child.
  • Of the studies carried out to reach the diagnosis.

The solution to this alteration produced by this disease is surgical due to the intestinal obstruction that the patient presents. In this case, the surgeon is responsible for removing the part of the colon and rectum that does not contain nerve cells. Later, it will connect directly with the anus. At other times, a colostomy will need to be performed to remove stool from your body; This consists of connecting the upper end of the intestine with an opening in the abdomen through which the chair leaves the body. This procedure can be temporary or permanent, depending on the degree of injury. After a while, free intestinal transit can be restored, and it is closed.

Children subjected to these procedures can present long-term problems such as digestion problems, absorption of nutrients, alteration of their development and growth.

That is why the doctor should be consulted. Only he will be in charge of finding the best solution to benefit the child’s health and avoid unnecessary injuries—everything to provide you with the greatest well-being according to your state.

This article is merely informative. At FastlyHeal .com, we do not have the power to prescribe medical treatments or make any diagnosis. We invite you to see a doctor if you present any condition or discomfort.

If you want to read more articles similar to Hirschsprung’s disease: what it is, symptoms and treatment, we recommend that you enter our Digestive system category.

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