An infant or young child who's having problems passing stools could be lacking essential nerve cells in their rectum. If your child is having difficulties moving their bowels, the board-certified pediatric gastroenterologists at Kids and Tummies have the skills and knowledge to help. At their office in Gulfport and Ocean Springs, Mississippi, the expert team can perform a rectal suction biopsy to test for conditions that could be causing your child's symptoms, like Hirschsprung disease. Find out more by calling Kids and Tummies or book an appointment online today.
A rectal suction biopsy is a procedure the Kids and Tummies team uses to take a tissue sample from your child's rectum, which is the final six inches of the bowel before the anus.
Laboratory analysis of a sample of rectal tissue can identify the presence or absence of nerve cells in your child's rectum. These nerve cells help your child have normal bowel movements.
Your child might need a rectal suction biopsy if they're experiencing difficulties passing their stools independently. The most likely cause is Hirschsprung disease, a condition where babies have nerve cells missing from the end of their bowel.
A healthy bowel contains numerous nerve cells that control its function, but if these cells are missing, stool can't move through the bowel properly. It passes along the bowel until it reaches the part where nerve cells are missing, then moves slowly or stops, causing a blockage.
There are two types of Hirschsprung disease: short-segment and long-segment.
With this type, a smaller area of the large intestine is affected. With short-segment Hirschsprung disease, the areas most likely to be missing nerve cells are the rectum and sigmoid colon (the section of bowel just above the rectum).
With the ultrashort-segment type of the disease, only the last 1-2 centimeters of the rectum is affected.
Less commonly, most or all of the large intestine is missing nerve cells, which is the long-segment form of Hirschsprung disease. Sometimes they're missing from the end of the small intestine as well.
In rare cases, children are missing nerve cells from their entire large and small intestine.
When your child has a rectal suction biopsy, they lie on their side or tummy, and your provider passes a slim, flexible tube into their rectum.
Biopsy samples are tiny pieces of tissue that are removed from several locations within the bowel. Due to the lack of pain sensors in the rectum, this shouldn't be too uncomfortable for your child.
After taking the samples, your provider removes the tube and checks for any rectal bleeding, which, if present, should be minimal.
Your child should be able to carry on with life as normal after their rectal suction biopsy. Some have a little bleeding afterward, but they shouldn't be in pain or have excessive blood loss.
As soon as the rectal suction biopsy results come back, your pediatrician contacts you to discuss the findings and any treatment your child might require.
To find out more about Hirschsprung disease or the rectal suction biopsy procedure, contact Kids and Tummies by phone or book an appointment online today.