Hirschsprung Disease: Surgeon Removes 30 Inches Of Man’s Constipated Colon


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A team of surgeons in China have beat the odds to remove 30 inches of large intestines from a 22-year old man suffering from Hirschsprung disease – a rare condition which caused severe constipation to build up in his colon over the years.

The unnamed patient is thought to have been born with the Hirschsprung disease (HD) – a developmental disorder characterised by the absence of ganglia in the distal colon, resulting in a functional obstruction. This means the nerves that control the bowels and help them to squeeze and relax to push stools out, are missing – leading to a build up and an eventual blockage.

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According to his doctors’ report, the patient, treated for Hirschsprung Disease at the 10th People’s Hospital of Shanghai in eastern China began to bulge at a very young age. His tummy swelled to such a size, that he looked like he was heavily pregnant which led him to rely on laxatives and other constipation medications to force his bowel movements, for years.

But, now a team of experts led by Dr Yin Lu, have operated on him to relieve his pain. According to Lu, the stunning size of the patient’s abdomen “looked like it could explode at any time.” It is believed the man lived with the pain for so many years until he finally sought medical help.

Tests quickly confirmed the young man had months – if not years’ – worth of faeces trapped in a section of his colon. He was taken into the operating theatre and underwent a three-hour operation to have 30 inches of his gut removed. Doctors had a rigorous time stitching the colons closed at either end, to stop his stools from falling out.

Weight check carried out on the scale shows the bizarre gut weighed a staggering 13kgs – about two stone. Dr Lu said the patient is now stable after surgery and is expected to make a full recovery soon.

Only one in every 5,000 births is said to be affected by the Hirschsprung Disease. It is also typically diagnosed in babies and children and causes severe constipation that can lead to a dangerous bowel infection, called enterocolitis if it’s not treated early.

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The symptoms of Hirschsprung Disease vary depending on whether it’s detected in babies or infants.

In babies, symptoms include failing to pass meconium (the dark, tar-like poo healthy babies pass soon after birth) within 48 hours, a swollen tummy, vomiting green fluid (bile).

While in infants and older kids, the signs include a swollen tummy and tummy ache, persistent constipation that doesn’t get better with usual treatment, not feeding well or gaining lots of weight.

Moreso, if a child develops enterocolitis they may also come down with a fever, and watery or foul smelling diarrhoea. The NHS advises that parents should be observant to detect these signs in other to get treated sooner.