Instr. L. Brockelman
13 Sept. 2011
Living With Hirschsprung’s Disease
“Jaylen has Hisrchsprung’s disease.” When I heard those words, my first reaction was, “what is Hirschsprung’s disease?” I soon learned that it is a congenital condition which results from an absence of “Auerbach’s plexus“(Swenson “Diagnosis”). In layman’s terms, “a part of the bowel is missing nerves . . . This causes a blockage. Intestinal contents build up behind the blockage, causing the bowel and abdomen to become swollen” (Hirschsprung’s disease). Statistics show that “the disease occurs about once in 5000 live births” (Swenson “Diagnosis”). Treatment for Hirschsprung’s disease is surgical intervention, but even then, the effects of the condition such as enterocolitis, short bowel syndrome, chronic constipation, and anal incontinence can still be experienced many years later.
Once an infant has been definitively diagnosed with Hisrchsprung’s disease by barium enema and anal biopsy, the next step is surgery, where a procedure called a “pull-through” is performed and the affected portion of the intestine is removed. Then the remaining intestine is “pulled-through” and reattached to the anal opening. This procedure corrects the problem of intestinal blockage but it doesn’t remove the effects of the disease itself.
First, those with the condition are susceptible to having an infection known as enterocolitis. Enterocolitis is a” severe inflammation of the intestines that affects the intestinal lining, muscle, nerves and blood vessels” ( “Enterocolitis”). This infection “ remains the major cause of death” in individuals diagnosed with Hirschsprungs’s disease (Marty and Matlak). Even though enterocolitis is the worse effect of Hirschsprung’s disease, it is not the only effect.
The next effect that can be experienced by individuals with the disease is anal incontinence. This condition causes a lack of control over bowel movements which can be very...