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Occurrence of Hirschsprung's disease in anorectal malformation (ARM) patients is rare, but many surgeons still ask to pathologists to search for ganglia in the terminal rectum/fistula; the histological procedure is time and money consuming and the results confounding. A consecutive series of ARM patients, in which the presence of ganglia in terminal rectum was revised, is herein presented. Rectal specimens of ARM patients who underwent corrective surgery in the last 6 years were retrieved. The histological protocol included H&E staining and calretinin immunohistochemistry. Each specimen is processed until all material is examined if no ganglia are retrieved after the first twelve sections. Forty cases were examined. Eight patients were younger than 1 month of age at operation. The mean length of the specimen was 1.5cm (range: 1-3 cm). Upon clinical request, ganglia were searched in 15/40 cases (37.5%) and resulted absent in 10/15 (66.5%). All patients have been followed and none developed signs or symptoms suggestive for Hirschsprung. The practice to search for ganglia in the terminal rectum/fistula in ARM patients should be abandoned, as incidence of associated colorectal diseases is rare. Moreover, the procedure is expensive both in terms of laboratory's reagents and working time of expert pathologists and technicians. Level IV (Case Series with no Comparison Group). Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


Paola Midrio, Emanuele Trovalusci, Cinzia Zanatta, Ivana Cataldo. Should the search for ganglia in the distal rectal fistula in patients with anorectal malformation be abandoned? Journal of pediatric surgery. 2020 Oct;55(10):2166-2169

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PMID: 32345500

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