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Semin Pediatr Surg. 2012 Nov;21(4):310-8. doi: 10.1053/j.sempedsurg.2012.07.005.

Variants of Hirschsprung disease.

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  • 1National Children's Research Centre, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, Dublin, Ireland.


Variants of Hirschsprung disease are conditions that clinically resemble Hirschsprung disease, despite the presence of ganglion cells in rectal suction biopsies. The characterization and differentiation of various entities are mainly based on histologic, immunohistochemical, and electron microscopy findings of biopsies from patients with functional intestinal obstruction. Intestinal neuronal dysplasia is histologically characterized by hyperganglionosis, giant ganglia, and ectopic ganglion cells. In most intestinal neuronal dysplasia cases, conservative treatments such as laxatives and enema are sufficient. Some patients may require internal sphincter myectomy. Patients with the diagnosis of isolated hypoganglionosis show decreased numbers of nerve cells, decreased plexus area, as well as increased distance between ganglia in rectal biopsies, and resection of the affected segment has been the treatment of choice. The diagnosis of internal anal sphincter achalasia is based on abnormal rectal manometry findings, whereas rectal suction biopsies display presence of ganglion cells as well as normal acetylcholinesterase activity. Internal anal sphincter achalasia is either treated by internal sphincter myectomy or botulinum toxin injection. Megacystis microcolon intestinal hypoperistalsis is a rare condition, and the most severe form of functional intestinal obstruction in the newborn. Megacystis microcolon intestinal hypoperistalsis is characterized by massive abdominal distension caused by a largely dilated nonobstructed bladder, microcolon, and decreased or absent intestinal peristalsis. Although the outcome has improved in recent years, survivors have to be either maintained by total parenteral nutrition or have undergone multivisceral transplant. This review article summarizes the current knowledge of the aforementioned entities of variant HD.

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