Hirschsprung's disease

Hirschsprung's (HIRSH-sproongz) disease is a condition that affects the large intestine (colon) and causes problems with passing stool. Hirschsprung's disease is present when a baby is born (congenital) and results from missing nerve cells in the muscles of part or all of the baby's colon.

A newborn who has Hirschsprung's disease is usually unable to have a bowel movement in the first days after birth. In mild cases, the condition might not be detected until later in childhood.

Hirschsprung's disease is treated with surgery to bypass or remove the diseased part of the colon.

Symptoms Causes Complications Risk factors

Signs and symptoms of Hirschsprung's disease vary with the severity of the condition. Usually signs and symptoms appear shortly after birth, but sometimes they're not apparent until later in life.

Typically, the most obvious sign of Hirschsprung's disease is a newborn's failure to have a bowel movement within 48 hours after birth.

Other signs and symptoms in newborns may include:

  • Swollen belly
  • Vomiting, including vomiting a green or brown substance
  • Constipation or gas, which might make a newborn fussy
  • Diarrhea

In older children, signs and symptoms can include:

  • Swollen belly
  • Chronic constipation
  • Gas
  • Failure to gain weight
  • Fatigue

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