Pediatric Surgery International

, Volume 22, Issue 12, pp 987–990

Long-term results of bowel function after treatment for Hirschsprung’s disease: a 29-year review

Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00383-006-1783-8

Cite this article as:
Menezes, M., Corbally, M. & Puri, P. Pediatr Surg Int (2006) 22: 987. doi:10.1007/s00383-006-1783-8


Although various surgical procedures have been described to treat Hirschsprung’s disease (HD), few studies have evaluated the long-term results of these children. The purpose of this study was to assess the long-term clinical outcome and bowel function of patients with HD. The hospital records of 259 consecutive patients with a confirmed histological diagnosis of HD during 1975–2003 were examined. Data was assessed for age at presentation, sex, clinical presentation, associated anomalies, level of aganglionosis, surgical procedures, complications and bowel function. Follow up was carried out by personal/telephone interviews with patients or their parents. Of the 259 patients with HD, 200 were males (77.2%) and 59 females (22.8%). Intestinal obstruction was the presenting feature in 147 patients (56.8%), intestinal perforation in 5 (1.9%), enterocolitis in 30 (11.6%) and constipation in 77 (29.7%). Thirty-nine patients (15.1%) had associated Down’s syndrome. Two hundred and nine patients (80.7%) had rectosigmoid disease, 31 (12%) had long segment disease and 19 (7.3%) had total colonic aganglionosis. Forty-three patients (16.6%) had preoperative enterocolitis. Primary colostomy was performed in 160 patients and a primary pull through in 90. Seven patients had a sphincteromyectomy for ultrashort HD. Two patients died prior to treatment. Various pull through procedures were performed in these patients. Postoperative complications included: pelvic abcess in 2, rectal stricture in 10, perianal excoriation in 7, anastomotic leak in 8, intestinal obstruction in 3, wound dehiscence in 1, stomal prolapse/stenosis in 5, rectovesical fistula in 2 and enterocolitis in 56. Five patients underwent a redo pull through and 46 required a post pull through sphincterectomy. At the time of follow-up, 27 were lost to follow-up, 9 died, 18 had permanent stomas and 4 were too young to assess bowel function. Of the remaining 194 patients, bowel function was normal in 132 (68%). Twenty patients (10.3%) had soiling and 42 (21.7%) had constipation requiring laxatives or enemas. There was no difference in bowel function in relation to type of pull through operation. Only 34% of patients with Down’s syndrome had normal continence. The majority of patients with HD continue to have disturbances of bowel function for many years before attaining normal continence.


Hirschsprung’s diseaseLong termBowel function

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Childrens Research CentreOur Ladys Hospital for Sick ChildrenDublin-12Ireland
  2. 2.University College DublinDublin-4Ireland