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Afr J Paediatr Surg. 2018 Apr-Jun;15(2):111-113. doi: 10.4103/ajps.AJPS_70_17.

A 6-year retrospective review of histopathological pattern of surgical biopsies in children with refractory constipation in a Tertiary Hospital in Ghana.

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Directorate of Surgery, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana.
Departments of Pathology, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
Departments of Child Health, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.



Children with chronic constipation dating to infancy frequently undergo rectal biopsy in order to rule out Hirschsprung's disease (HD) which is a common cause of this sort of presentation. Few publications have however focused on the documentation of the proportion of such patients who truly had histopathological findings confirming the disease. In this preliminary work, we aim to present the histopathological findings of children who had rectal biopsies in our centre from 2009 to 2014.

Patients and Methods:

A retrospective study was undertaken to review the histopathology reports of all rectal biopsies submitted to the Department of Pathology of the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, from 2009 to 2014 on account of refractory constipation and suspected HD. Patient's biodata, clinical signs and symptoms were extracted from the request form.


Eighty-eight cases were seen during the study period with male to female ratio 2.8:1 and age range 6 months to 10 years. The modal age range is 24-36 months. Seventy-six of the specimens were adequate for histopathological assessment with 64 cases confirmed as HD while 12 cases were normal. Out of the confirmed cases, 3 cases showed absence of ganglion cells but no hypertrophy of nerve fibres.


This preliminary work reveals that HD is rarely confirmed by biopsy in early infancy in our setting due to late presentation although the epidemiology of the disease is similar to that reported elsewhere.


Chronic constipation; Hirschsprung's disease; rectal biopsy

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