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.
HAEC occurs when the bowel becomes inflamed or infected. This may be caused by:
Risk factors for HAEC include:
Symptoms may include:
These symptoms may be caused by other conditions. If your child has any of these symptoms, tell the doctor right away.
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.
Talk with the doctor about the best treatment plan for your child. Treatment options include:
American Academy of Pediatrics
International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders
Canadian Association of Gastroenterology
Canadian Paediatric Society
Badash M. Hirschsprung’s Disease. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 2010. Accessed October 22, 2010.
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Hirschsprung’s Disease. About Kids GI website. Available at: http://www.aboutkidsgi.org/site/about-gi-health-in-kids/functional-gi-and-motility-disorders/hirschsprungs-disease. Updated October 2. Updated October 2, 2009. Accessed October 22, 2010.
Hirschsprung’s Disease. Mayo Clinic website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hirschsprungs-disease/DS00825. 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: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 2010. Accessed October 22, 2010.
Last reviewed December 2013 by Daus Mahnke, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.