The title of Hirschsprung's paper,1 published in 1887, on the disease which bears his name reads, in translation, "Sluggishness of Stool in the Newborn Resulting from Dilatation and Hypertrophy of the Colon." It indicates what is now a well established fact, that there is a group of cases of so-called congenital megacolon in which, despite obvious manifestations of incomplete, localized intestinal obstruction occurring at various levels of the large bowel, no gross stricture or stenosis can be demonstrated. The absence of an organic, macroscopic cause for the obstruction is all the more striking in that almost identical manifestations are found in other cases in which a mechanical cause is evident, such as stricture, diaphragm formation of the rectal valves and inflammatory lesions causing chronic spasm.
No satisfactory explanation based on anatomic evidence has as yet been generally accepted, and recent discussions have dealt largely with a functional cause, particularly
TIFFIN ME, CHANDLER LR, FABER HK. LOCALIZED ABSENCE OF THE GANGLION CELLS OF THE MYENTERIC PLEXUS IN CONGENITAL MEGACOLON. Am J Dis Child. 1940;59(5):1071–1082. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1940.01990160145010
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