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February 1, 1908


JAMA. 1908;L(5):367. doi:10.1001/jama.1908.02530310043004

The term congenital or idiopathic megacolon carries with it a definite meaning that will have considerable significance to any medical man at first sight, and yet many medical writers persist in using the meaningless synonym "Hirschsprung's disease;" and this is especially true of our German colleagues, who delight in this method of nomenclature. Furthermore, about a round dozen of these cases had been described before Hirschsprung made the subject more familiar in 1886. At present the total number of cases recorded in the current literature is not far from 150, including several reported in America, and the entire literature has been worked over recently by C. Löwenstein.1 It seems probable, however, that this remarkable condition is not so rare as the above figures indicate, for probably the diagnosis is often not made in spite of the extremely striking features that characterize the disease.

The essential anatomic condition is a