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In Hirschsprung's disease, certain nerve cells (ganglion cells) in a portion of the colon are missing. Because the muscles in that area can't relax, the muscle contractions that normally push food and digestive waste through that part of the colon can't occur. The picture on the right shows a colon in which the rectum lacks ganglion nerve cells, causing swelling in the area above it.
Last Revised: April 13, 2012
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Brad W. Warner, MD - Pediatric Surgery
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