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Critical Analysis of the Operative Treatment of Hirschsprung's Disease

Randall S. Fortuna, MD; Thomas R. Weber, MD; Thomas F. Tracy Jr, MD; Mark L. Silen, MD; Thomas V. Cradock, MD
Arch Surg. 1996;131(5):520-525. doi:10.1001/archsurg.1996.01430170066013.
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Objective:  To critically analyze complications and long-term results of the operative treatment of Hirschsprung's disease.

Design:  Medical records of patients with Hirschsprung's disease were reviewed retrospectively. Follow-up was obtained using a standardized telephone questionnaire.

Setting:  Major pediatric referral center.

Patients:  Eighty-two infants and children (68 boys, 14 girls) were treated for Hirschsprung's disease during a 20-year period (1975 to 1994). The age at diagnosis was younger than 30 days in 47 neonates (57%), 30 days to 1 year in 22 infants (27%), and older than 1 year in 13 children (16%). Aganglionosis was limited to the rectosigmoid region in 66 patients (81%). Fifty-five Soave (endorectal) and 27 Duhamel (retrorectal) primary pullthrough operations were performed.

Main Outcome Measures:  Postoperative complications, reoperations, hospitalization, and current bowel habits.

Results:  Eighteen children (67%) undergoing the Duhamel operation recovered uneventfully compared with 33 children (60%) undergoing the Soave operation. The complications following the Duhamel operation included enterocolitis in five cases (19%), rectal achalasia in four cases (15%), and persistent rectal septum in two cases (7%). Additional operations, which included myomectomy, rectal septum division, diverting enterostomy, and sphincterotomy, were required in seven patients (26%). Only one patient required more than one reoperation. In contrast, complications following the Soave operation included enterocolitis in 15 cases (27%), rectal stenosis in 12 (22%), anastomotic leak in four (7%), late perirectal fistula in three (5%), rectal prolapse in one (2%), and recurrent severe constipation in one (2%). Sixteen patients (29%) required additional operations, including diverting enterostomy, myomectomy, redo pull-through, sphincterotomy, fistulectomy, and revision of rectal prolapse. In this group, nearly two reoperative procedures per patient were required. Telephone follow-up (mean, 89.3 months) after pull-through operations in 61 patients (74%) showed a mean of 2.8 stools per day, with 13 patients (21%) requiring daily medications.

Conclusions:  The most common operations (Soave and Duhamel) for Hirschsprung's disease result in an uneventful recovery in only 60% to 67% of patients. Although both Soave and Duhamel pull-through operations have nearly identical reoperation rates (26% vs 29%), complications after Soave pull-through operations often require multiple, more extensive procedures. Short-term total continence rates for both procedures are less than 50%, however, 100% became continent by 15 years after the pull-through procedure. Further refinement in operative technique and close follow-up are warranted.(Arch Surg. 1996;131:520-525)

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