“The only treatment for Hirschsprung Disease is surgery, where the section of the rectum or colon that isn’t functioning properly is removed. When found at the newborn stage, many children will have this procedure before they leave the hospital,” says Dr. Fisher. “The number one goal is to remove the affected area and put things back together so the child can poop normally. Although a temporary stoma is sometimes necessary, the vast majority are ultimately able to go to the bathroom through the anus.”
Typical recovery for this surgery is a few days in the hospital, usually less than a week depending on other factors. Before discharge home, a child’s bowels must be functioning as expected. Parents are also educated about how to look out for enterocolitis or infection that can develop in the digestive tract after surgery. While in the past surgeons have believed that surgical repair corrected Hirschsprung Disease completely, it’s now understood that many children with the condition may have ongoing issues with bowel function including incontinence and constipation.
Dr. Fisher notes that Hirschsprung Disease is complex and multifaceted and can negatively impact a person’s quality of life. Because these issues often continue into adolescence and adulthood, routine monitoring or being followed by a specialist is critical to ensure they don’t develop or continue to struggle with the physical and psychosocial issues related to the disease.