Hirschsprung’s Disease

California Pediatric Surgical Group

General Surgery & Pediatric Surgery located in Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, Ventura, & Thousand Oaks, CA

If your newborn doesn’t have a bowel movement within their first 1-2 days after birth, they may have Hirschsprung’s disease. California Pediatric Surgical Group provides comprehensive care for infants with congenital anomalies, such as Hirschsprung’s disease, at their locations in Santa Maria, Thousand Oaks, Santa Barbara, and two Ventura, California, offices. If your baby has Hirschsprung’s disease, call the location nearest you or book an appointment online today.

Hirschsprung’s Disease Q&A

What is Hirschsprung’s disease?

Hirschsprung’s disease is a congenital condition that prevents stool from moving through the large intestine normally. A healthy large intestine contains nerve cells along its length that control bowel function. Children who have Hirschsprung’s disease are missing nerve cells at the end of their large intestine. 


The large intestine doesn’t work properly without nerve cells. With Hirschsprung’s disease, stool moves through the large intestine until it reaches the area lacking nerve cells. Then, the stool either stops or moves slowly. This leads to constipation and intestinal obstruction.

Who gets Hirschsprung’s disease?

Hirschsprung’s disease is present at birth and affects about one in 5,000 newborn infants. Because Hirschsprung’s disease is inherited, having a sibling or parent with the condition increases the risk. Having other inherited conditions, such as Down syndrome and congenital heart disease, also increases the risk of Hirschsprung’s disease.

How do I know if my baby has Hirschsprung’s disease?

Usually, the most noticeable sign of Hirschsprung’s disease is a newborn’s failure to move their bowels within their first 48 hours. Other signs and symptoms of Hirschsprung’s disease in newborns include:


  • Swollen belly
  • Diarrhea, often with blood
  • Green or brown vomit


Even though Hirschsprung’s disease is present at birth, symptoms of mild cases may not be obvious until later in childhood. If your baby has Hirschsprung’s disease, California Pediatric Surgical Group can help.

How is Hirschsprung’s disease diagnosed?

The doctor first performs a physical exam and asks you questions about your baby’s bowel movements. If they suspect Hirschsprung’s disease, they may perform one or more tests, such as an abdominal X-ray or rectal biopsy.

How is Hirschsprung’s disease treated?

Treatment for Hirschsprung’s disease requires surgery. Your surgeon explains the best surgical technique for your child’s specific condition. Surgical treatment for Hirschsprung’s disease may involve a pull-through procedure, which removes the abnormal section of the intestine and attaches a healthy segment to the anus.

California Pediatric Surgical Group uses minimally invasive techniques, such as laparoscopic surgery, whenever possible. Minimally invasive surgery leads to less pain, quicker recovery, and a reduced risk of complications.

For expert treatment of Hirschsprung’s disease, call California Pediatric Surgical Group or book an appointment online today.

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