Munson Health
Hirschsprung's-associated Enterocolitis

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by Kerr SJ




Hirschsprung’s-associated enterocolitis (HAEC) is a complication of Hirschsprung’s disease . This is a rare condition that occurs in babies. It occurs when there are no nerve cells in the bowel. These nerve cells normally help control the bowel muscles that allow feces to move through the colon. The absence of these cells results in a bowel obstruction. This prevents normal bowel movements.
Enterocolitis is an inflammation or infection of the bowel. HAEC can happen suddenly and requires immediate care by a doctor. In most cases, hospital care is needed.


The doctor will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The doctor may do the following:
If your child has had pull-through surgery to treat an intestinal blockage, he will be closely monitored for symptoms of HAEC. While most cases of HAEC occur within two years after pull-through surgery, it can occur up to 10 years following surgery.
If the doctor suspects HAEC, barium enemas will be avoided. This is because of an increased risk of bowel perforation.


American Academy of Pediatrics

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders



Canadian Association of Gastroenterology

Canadian Paediatric Society



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Enterocolitis Associated with Hirschsprung’s Disease. University of Michigan Department of Surgery: Pediatric Surgery website. Available at: Updated January 11, 2010. Accessed October 22, 2010.

Hirschsprung’s Disease. About Kids GI website. Available at: . Updated October 2, 2009. Accessed October 22, 2010.

Hirschsprung’s Disease. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: . Updated November 2008. Accessed October 22, 2010.

Kessmann J. Hirschsprung’s disease: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician . 2006 Oct 15;74(8):1319-1322.

Lucey JR. Necrotizing enterocolitis. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: . Updated September 2010. Accessed October 22, 2010.


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