A 22-year-old man in China, who was born with a rare bowel condition and has been constipated his entire life, recently underwent surgery to remove 28 pounds of feces. During the three-hour procedure, 30 inches of the man’s enlarged bowel was removed. The surgery was performed in Shanghai at the Tenth People’s Hospital, according to the Daily Mail.
Doctors believe the man suffers from Hirschsprung’s disease, which is a condition that affects the large intestine, making it difficult for an individual to defecate. The condition is congenital, meaning it is present at the time of birth. It occurs when nerve cells in the muscles of the colon are missing, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Approximately one in every 5,000 babies is affected by Hirschsprung’s disease. The condition is more common in boys. In most cases, the obvious sign of the disease is when the baby seems to be constipated and is unable to have a bowel movement within 48 hours of birth. Other symptoms include a swollen abdomen, vomiting that may be green or brown, constipation, gas, or diarrhea. However, in mild cases of the disease, the condition may not present a problem until later on in childhood. As a child gets older, symptoms of the disease include a swollen abdomen, fatigue, failure to thrive, constant constipation, and gas. It is uncommon for the disease to be diagnosed in adults.
Doctors are unsure what causes Hirschsprung’s disease. The condition sometimes runs in families. Therefore, younger children are at an increased risk of having Hirschsprung’s disease if an older sibling has been diagnosed. In addition, children who have other inherited conditions such as Down syndrome or abnormalities at birth such as congenital heart disease have an increased risk of Hirschsprung’s. The only treatment available for the condition is surgery. The procedure is performed to bypass or remove the portion of colon that is diseased.
When the 22-year-old man went to the hospital for help, he looked as though he was nine months pregnant due to the fecal blockage that left his colon painfully enlarged. Tests revealed that he had months, possibly years worth of feces backed up inside a portion of his colon. The man said he had been constipated his entire life, and even though he had used laxatives, the relief was only temporary.
By Trixie Dillwood
Photo Courtesy Shanghai Tenth People’s Hospital