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Pediatric Hirschsprung Disease Treatment & Management

  • Author: Holly L Neville, MD; Chief Editor: Carmen Cuffari, MD  more...
Updated: Aug 09, 2016

Medical Care

See the list below:

  • If a child with Hirschsprung disease has symptoms and signs of a high-grade intestinal obstruction, initial therapy should include intravenous hydration, withholding of enteral intake, and intestinal and gastric decompression.
  • Decompression can be accomplished through placement of a nasogastric tube and either digital rectal examination or normal saline rectal irrigations 3-4 times daily.
  • Administer broad-spectrum antibiotics to patients with enterocolitis.
  • Immediately request surgical consultation for biopsy confirmation and treatment plan.
  • While awaiting surgical intervention in the event of a planned single-stage pull-through procedure, the baby should receive scheduled vaccinations.

Surgical Care

The surgical options vary according to the patient's age, mental status, ability to perform activities of daily living, length of the aganglionic segment, degree of colonic dilation, and presence of enterocolitis.

Surgical options include leveling colostomy, which is a colostomy at the level of normal bowel; a staged procedure with placement of a leveled colostomy followed by a pull-through procedure; or a single-stage pull-through procedure. The single-stage pull-through procedure may be performed with laparoscopic, open, or transanal techniques. This procedure can be performed at the time of diagnosis or after the newborn has had rectal irrigations at home and has passed the physiologic nadir. Colostomy followed by pull-through procedure is generally reserved for those patients who present with sepsis due to enterocolitis, massive distention of ganglionic bowel prohibiting pull-through procedure, or are otherwise not medically suitable for the pull-through procedure.

The ability to perform a single-stage pull-through procedure largely depends on the availability, experience, and capabilities of the staff pathologist because aganglionic intestine must not be in the pull-through segment.

Recurrent postoperative enterocolitis may require treatment. Current therapeutic options include rectal dilations, application of topical nitric oxide, posterior myotomy/myectomy,[7] , injection of botulinum toxin, or repeat operation in the event of refractory obstructive symptoms or repeated enterocolitis.[8, 9]



A special diet is not required. However, preoperatively and in the early postoperative period, infants on a nonconstipated regimen, such as breast milk, are more easily managed.



Postoperatively, patients may return to their normal physical activities.

Contributor Information and Disclosures

Holly L Neville, MD Associate Professor of Clinical Surgery, Division of Pediatric Surgery, University of Miami, Leonard M Miller School of Medicine

Holly L Neville, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Surgeons, American Pediatric Surgical Association, Association of Women Surgeons

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Specialty Editor Board

Mary L Windle, PharmD Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Pharmacy; Editor-in-Chief, Medscape Drug Reference

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.

Chief Editor

Carmen Cuffari, MD Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology/Nutrition, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Carmen Cuffari, MD is a member of the following medical societies: American College of Gastroenterology, American Gastroenterological Association, North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Disclosure: Received honoraria from Prometheus Laboratories for speaking and teaching; Received honoraria from Abbott Nutritionals for speaking and teaching.

Additional Contributors

Hisham Nazer, MB, BCh, FRCP, , DTM&H Professor of Pediatrics, Consultant in Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Clinical Nutrition, University of Jordan Faculty of Medicine, Jordan

Hisham Nazer, MB, BCh, FRCP, , DTM&H is a member of the following medical societies: American Association for Physician Leadership, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of the United Kingdom

Disclosure: Nothing to disclose.


The authors and editors of Medscape Reference gratefully acknowledge the contributions of previous author Charles Cox Jr, MD, to the development and writing of this article.

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Abdominal radiograph demonstrating small bowel obstruction and megacolon in infant with Hirschsprung Disease.
Barium enema demonstrating transition zone. The transition zone shows the transition from dilated, normally innervated bowel to normal caliber, noninnervated bowel.
Intraoperative finding in total colonic aganglionosis. Note the decompressed bowel adjacent to the distended colon.
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