Visceral neuropathies responsible for chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction syndrome in pediatric practice: analysis of 26 cases

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1990 Aug;11(2):179-95. doi: 10.1097/00005176-199008000-00006.


Twenty-six children aged from 1 day to 15 years (18 boys and 8 girls) with visceral neuropathies are analyzed. Clinical symptomatology is dominated by abdominal distension, attacks of occlusion, abdominal pain, and malnutrition. Intestine bacterial overgrowth is frequent. From aspiration biopsies, surgical rectal biopsies, and, in some cases, ileal or ileocolic biopsies, histopathological studies revealed two patterns. One group had abnormalities of the myenteric plexus identified by conventional light microscopic studies, with two patterns: [myenteric plexus hyperplasia (9 patients), characterized by large ganglionic nodes, penetration into the mucosal zone, and altered argyrophilic neurons]. Clinically this pattern was observed in four patients with multiple endocrine neoplasia syndrome with risk of medullary thyroid carcinoma. The second pattern observed was characterized by glial cell hyperplasia (15 patients). Ganglion cells are present but are small and sparse, often infiltrated by collagen tissue; Schwann nerve fibers are hypertrophic. Eleven patients presented with neonatal intestinal obstruction. The second group is characterized by normal conventional light microscopic examination, but silver stains revealed important abnormalities of argyrophobic cells (one case) or argyrophilic cells (one case). In the two groups, most of the patients needed intestinal derivation and prolonged nutritional support with total parenteral nutrition.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Female
  • Hirschsprung Disease / complications
  • Hirschsprung Disease / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Mucosa / pathology
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction / etiology
  • Intestinal Pseudo-Obstruction / pathology*
  • Intestines / innervation
  • Male
  • Myenteric Plexus / pathology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / complications
  • Neuromuscular Diseases / pathology*
  • Neurons / pathology