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J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011 Apr;52(4):433-6. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0b013e3181efe551.

Colonic hyperactivity results in frequent fecal soiling in a subset of children after surgery for Hirschsprung disease.

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Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229, USA.



Fecal soiling is a challenging problem in some children after pull-through surgery for Hirschsprung disease (HSCR). The prevailing perception is that soiling results from overflow incontinence; however, its treatment with laxatives yields mixed results. Colonic manometry studies are reported to be normal in most patients in this population. The interpretation of these findings does not support the physiology of fecal overflow incontinence in these children. The aim of the present study was to define the physiology underlying daily, frequent fecal soiling in children after surgery for HSCR using manometric techniques.


Four pediatric motility centers in the United States participated in the study; medical records and manometric tracings (anorectal and colonic) of children (n = 59; 6.5 years; 48 boys) who had pull-through surgery for HSCR and presented with daily, frequent fecal soiling were examined. Children referred for evaluation of constipation who had normal colonic manometry served as controls (n = 25; 6.7 years; 12 boys). The patients with HSCR were divided into 2 groups (Hirschsprung disease groups 1 and 2 [HD1, HD2]) based on the absence or presence of high-amplitude propagated contractions (HAPCs). A control group that included children with chronic constipation was also studied. We compared the mean HAPC frequency between the HD2 and control groups.


HD1 included 21 patients who had no HAPCs in fasting or postprandial periods. HD2 included 38 patients who had an average of 0.07 HPACs/min while fasting and 0.13/min in the postprandial state. In this subset the number of HAPCs in the fasting state (P = 0.04) and the postprandial state (P < 0.001) was greater when compared with controls. Additionally, there was a significant increase in HAPCs/min from the fasting to the postprandial state (P = 0.01). In the HD2 group 40% had colonic hyperactivity.


Daily, frequent fecal soiling after pull-through surgery for HSCR may be due to colonic hyperactivity in some children. It is imperative that this unique subset be identified because the management strategy would include avoidance of laxatives, contrary to standard current practice.

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