Hirschsprung’s disease

A congenital disorder in which the rectum, and sometimes the lower part of the colon, lack the ganglion cells that control the intestine’s rhythmic contractions. The affected area becomes narrowed and blocks the movement of faecal material. The disease is rare and tends to run in families. It occurs about 4 times more often in boys. Symptoms, which include constipation and bloating, usually develop in the first few weeks of life, but may become evident in infancy or early childhood. The child usually has a poor appetite and may fail to grow properly. A barium X-ray examination can show the narrowed segment of the intestine. A biopsy may be taken. Treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease involves removing the narrowed segment and rejoining the normal intestine to the anus.


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