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Int J Clin Exp Pathol 2013;6(8):1624-1630

Case Report
Adult Hirschsprung’s disease: report of four cases

Jiang-Feng Qiu, Yi-Jiu Shi, Li Hu, Lei Fang, Hui-Fang Wang, Mou-Cheng Zhang

Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Ningbo First Hospital, Ningbo, 315010, China

Received May 15, 2013; Accepted July 5, 2013; Epub July 15, 2013; Published August 1, 2013

Abstract: Adult Hirschsprung’s disease (HD) is a rare motor disorder of the gut that is frequently misdiagnosed as refractory constipation. The
primary pathogenic defect in adult HD is identical to that seen in infancy or childhood, and is characterized by the total absence of intramural
ganglion cells of the submucosal (Meissner) and myenteric (Auerbach) neural plexuses in the affected segment of the bowel. Ninety-four
percent of HD cases are diagnosed before the patient reaches 5 years of age, however, on rare occasion, mild cases of HD may go
undiagnosed until he or she reaches adulthood. In this study, we describe four cases of adult HD with a history of longstanding recurrent
constipation, relieved by laxatives, and presenting to the Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery with progressive abdominal distention, colicky
pain or acute intestinal obstruction. Barium enema or computed tomography revealed a grossly distended proximal large colon with fecal
retention. Intraoperative frozen section biopsy was performed in all cases and showed aganglionosis of the stenotic segment and a normal
distal rectum. In all cases, patient symptoms were completely resolved and there were no complications arising immediately post-surgery or at
one-year follow-up. Adult HD should be considered in the differential diagnosis of cases where adult patients present with chronic constipation
or even acute intestinal obstruction. The modified one-stage Martin-Duhamel or Rehbein’s procedure is a feasible surgical option for treating
cases of adult HD involving a segment or the entire bowel. (IJCEP1305040).

Keywords: Adult, constipation, treatment, Hirschsprung’s disease

Address correspondence to: Dr. Jiang-Feng Qiu, Department of Gastrointestinal Surgery, Ningbo First Hospital, Ningbo, 315010, PR China.
Tel: 0086-0574-87089859; Fax: 0086-0574-87304070; E-mail: jfqiu2011@gmail.com