Acetylcholinesterase-stained suction rectal biopsies in the diagnosis of Hirschsprung's disease

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1990 Aug;11(2):221-8. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199008000-00012.


Conflicting reports in the literature regarding the sensitivity and specificity of the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) stain in establishing or excluding the diagnosis of Hirschsprung's disease (HD) prompted this review of 497 rectal biopsies performed on 455 children. Using hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) to stain formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue sections is our preferred method of identifying ganglion cells. In this series, however, there were eight children with HD, and nine without HD in whom the AChE-stained portion of the sample provided invaluable diagnostic information not obtained from the concomitant, formalin-fixed, H&E-stained portion of the sample. The AChE stain also provided at least suggestive evidence of HD in some of the anal or anorectal biopsy specimens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase*
  • Biopsy
  • Female
  • Hirschsprung Disease / diagnosis
  • Hirschsprung Disease / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Rectum / pathology*
  • Staining and Labeling*
  • Suction


  • Acetylcholinesterase