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Hirschsprung Treatment

Pull-through Procedure

Hirschsprung's Disease (HD) is treated with surgery called a pull-through procedure. A surgeon removes the segment of the large intestine lacking nerve cells and connects the healthy segment to the anus. The pull-through procedure is usually done soon after diagnosis.


Before pull-through surgery: The diseased segment doesn’t push stool.


Step 1: The diseased segment is removed.


Step 2: The healthy segment is attached to the remaining rectum.

Ostomy Surgery

An ostomy allows stool to leave the body through an opening in the abdomen. Although most children with HD do not need an ostomy, a child who has been very sick from HD may need an ostomy to get better before the pull-through procedure.

For ostomy surgery, the surgeon first takes out the diseased segment of the large intestine. The end of the healthy intestine is moved to an opening in the abdomen where a stoma is created. A stoma is created by rolling the intestine’s end back on itself, like a shirt cuff, and stitching it to the abdominal wall. An ostomy pouch is attached to the stoma and worn outside the body to collect stool. The pouch will need to be emptied several times each day.


If the surgeon removes the entire large intestine and connects the small intestine to the stoma, the surgery is called an ileostomy. If the surgeon leaves part of the large intestine and connects it to the stoma, the surgery is called a colostomy.

Later, during the pull-through procedure, the surgeon removes the stoma and closes the abdomen with stitches.


Step 1: The diseased segment is removed.


Step 2: The healthy intestine is moved to an opening in the abdomen where a stoma is created.

After Ostomy Surgery

Infants will feel better after ostomy surgery because they will be able to easily pass gas and stool.

Older children will feel better, too, but they must adjust to living with an ostomy. They will need to learn how to take care of the stoma and how to change the ostomy pouch. With a few changes, children with ostomies can lead normal lives. However, they may worry about being different from their friends. A special nurse called an ostomy nurse can answer questions and show how to care for an ostomy.

After the Pull-through Procedure

Most children pass stool normally after the pull-through procedure. Children may have diarrhea for awhile, and infants and toddlers may develop diaper rash, which is treatable with diaper creams. Over time, stool will become more solid and the child will go to the bathroom less often. Toilet training may take longer. Children often must learn how to use the muscles of the anus after surgery. Some children may leak stool for awhile, but most will learn to have better bowel control as they get older.

After the pull-through procedure, children with long-segment HD need to drink more fluids. Now that the large intestine is shorter, or entirely gone, it is less able to absorb fluids the body needs. Drinking more helps make up for the loss.

Some infants may need tube feedings for awhile. A feeding tube allows infant formula or milk to be pumped directly into the stomach or small intestine. The feeding tube is passed through the nose or through an incision in the abdomen.

Eating high-fiber foods can help reduce constipation and diarrhea. Fiber helps form stool, making bowel movements easier. High-fiber foods include whole-grain breads, vegetables, and fruits. Some children may need laxatives to treat ongoing constipation. Consult a doctor before giving a laxative to your child.



National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, USA.