Probiotic prophylaxis after pullthrough for Hirschsprung disease to reduce incidence of enterocolitis: a prospective, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter trial

J Pediatr Surg. 2013 Jan;48(1):111-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2012.10.028.


Objective: Hirschsprung-associated enterocolitis (HAEC) is one of the most troublesome problems encountered after a pullthrough. We hypothesized that prophylactic administration of probiotics after a pullthrough procedure would decrease the incidence of HAEC.

Study design: A prospective, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial was conducted at 2 children's hospitals. Infants undergoing pullthrough were randomized to probiotic or placebo for a period of 3 months post-pullthrough. Primary outcome was incidence of post-operative HAEC. Other outcomes included severity of HAEC by clinical grade, number of HAEC episodes and extent of aganglionosis. Pearson Chi Square analysis, as well as logistic regression, was used for statistical analysis.

Results: Sixty-two patients were recruited (Sites: A=40; B=22). One was lost to follow up and one immediate post-op death was not included in final analysis. Probiotics were administered to 32 patients. Distribution of placebo/probiotics was equal between sites (P=0.858). Mean age at pullthrough was 6.5 ± 8.1(± SD) months. The incidence of HAEC was 28.3%. The incidence of HAEC was not statistically different between probiotic and placebo study groups.

Conclusions: Incidence of HAEC was not reduced with prophylactic probiotics. Future studies are needed to better determine the etiology and possible ways of preventing this complex condition.

Trial registration: NCT00630838.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Enterocolitis / epidemiology
  • Enterocolitis / etiology
  • Enterocolitis / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hirschsprung Disease / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Postoperative Care / methods*
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Complications / prevention & control*
  • Probiotics / therapeutic use*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data