What can I expect after Hirschsprung disease (HD) surgery of my child?

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After Hirschsprung disease (HD) surgery of your child, you can expect the following:

Ostomy: Most babies are more comfortable after an ostomy because they can pass gas and stool more easily, and are not constipated anymore.

Older children too will be more comfortable, but they may have some trouble getting used to an ostomy. They will need to learn how to take care of the stoma and how to change the bag that collects stool. They may be worried about being different from their friends. Most children can lead a normal life after surgery.

Adjusting after pull-through surgery: After a pull-through, nine out of ten children pass stool normally. Some children may have diarrhea for a while, and babies may develop a nasty diaper rash. Eventually, the stool will become more solid and the child will need to go to the bathroom less often. Toilet training may be delayed, as the child learns how to use the bottom muscles only after pull-through surgery. Older children might stain their underwear for a while after the surgery. It is not their fault. They cannot control this problem, but it improves with time.

Some children become constipated because one in ten children with HD has difficulty moving stool through the part of the colon without nerve cells. A mild laxative may also be helpful. Ask your doctor for suggestions.

Diet and nutrition: One job of the large intestine is to collect the water and salts the body needs. Since your child's intestine is shorter now, it can absorb less amounts of water and salt. Your child will need to drink more water to make sure his body gets enough fluids.

An infant who has long-segment disease requiring an ileostomy may need special tube feedings. The shortened intestine does not allow the bloodstream enough time to absorb nutrients from food before it is pushed out of the body as stool. Tube feedings that deliver nutrients can make up for what is lost.

Eating high-fiber foods like cereal and bran muffins can help reduce constipation and diarrhea.

This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.