The following is from Dr. Len Leshin’s web site: www.ds-health.com

Hirschsprung disease is a condition in which a segment of colon directly above the rectum is formed without nerve endings. This condition makes it impossible for that segment to push the stool along into the rectum; the stool backs up just above the rectum and only enters the rectum when enough stool backs up to push the front along (like a train caboose pushing the engine). These babies typically do not pass stool in the first 48 hours of life, and are chronically constipated. Children with DS do have an increased risk of having Hirschsprung disease, and sometimes it can be very difficult for the doctor to tell the difference between Hirschsprung and the normal stooling pattern of a baby with DS. The diagnosis is made by first performing a barium enema on the child, and if that exam is suspicious, confirmed by a rectal biopsy. Treatment is the removal of the segment of colon without the nerve endings (the length is variable from child to child). The traditional treatment was performed in two stages: the first surgery attached the ending of the colon to a specially made opening (colostomy), and then reattachment of the rectum was performed months later. Now, however, many surgeons are removing the involved segment of colon and reattaching the good colon to the rectum in one procedure. This surgery solves the problem of constipation, though children without long segments of colon may have problems with diarrhea and malabsorption for the rest of their lives. Parents of children with Hirschsprung disease may be interested in a parent organization called the Pull-thru Network at http://www.pullthrunetwork.org/.


Recommended Reading:

Medical & Surgical Care for Children with Down Syndrome: A Guide for Parents
Edited by D.C. Van Dyke, M.D., Philip Mattheis, M.D., Susan Schoon Eberly, M.A., and Janet Williams, R.N., Ph.D.
Much-needed medical and surgical information in easy-to-understand language. Topics include medical decision making, preventative care, anesthesia concerns, heart disease, thyroid problems, skin conditions, gastrointestinal problems, leukemia, reproductive issues, ENT problems, orthopedic conditions, dental issues, and much more. $14.95 isbn# 0-933149-54-9 WoodbineHouse