Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Your child's doctor may recommend one or more of the following tests to diagnose or rule out Hirschsprung's disease:

  • Abdominal X-ray using a contrast dye. Barium or another contrast dye is placed into the bowel through a special tube inserted in the rectum. The barium fills and coats the lining of the bowel, creating a clear silhouette of the colon and rectum. The X-ray will often show a clear contrast between the narrow section of bowel without nerves and the normal but often swollen section of bowel behind it.
  • Measuring control of the muscles around the rectum. A manometry test is typically done on older children and adults. During the manometry test, the doctor inflates a balloon inside the rectum. The surrounding muscle should relax as a result. If it doesn't, Hirschsprung's disease may be the cause.
  • Removing a sample of colon tissue for testing. Removing a sample of tissue for testing (biopsy) is the surest way to identify Hirschsprung's disease. A biopsy sample can be collected using a suction device and is done on an outpatient basis, meaning it doesn't require a hospital stay.
Mar. 28, 2013

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