Children with Hirschsprung’s disease need surgery to remove the part of the colon that is missing nerve cells. This can be done one of two ways:
- Pull-through surgery. With this procedure, the surgeon removes the affected part of the colon and connects the remaining part to the rectum. This can often be done with minimally invasive techniques right after Hirschsprung’s disease is diagnosed.
- Ostomy surgery. This is a two-step procedure that allows the lower part of the colon to heal before the second step. The surgeon first removes the affected part of the colon and diverts the healthy part to the outside of the abdomen. The stool is routed into a bag that is emptied several times a day. For the second surgery, the surgeon connects the healthy part of the colon to the rectum and closes the hole where the diversion was located.
Your child’s stools may be loose after surgery, and later on, constipation can be a problem. Your team at Orlando Health Arnold Palmer Hospital Center for Digestive Health and Nutrition may recommend a laxative and a high-fiber diet to help. Surgery for Hirschsprung’s disease usually leads to excellent outcomes, and children have no lasting complications. If their growth was slowed due to their condition, it typically improves afterward.
While most children do well after surgery, Hirschsprung’s disease makes them more likely to develop a serious infection called enterocolitis. It can occur both before and after surgery with symptoms such as severe diarrhea, fever, bleeding from the rectum, vomiting and a swollen abdomen. Enterocolitis is more common among younger children, but if your child ever has any of these symptoms, you should contact your doctor right away.