Hirschsprung's disease: an appraisal of histochemically demonstrated acetylcholinesterase activity in suction rectal biopsy specimens as an aid to diagnosis

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 1978 May;102(5):244-7.


Suction rectal biopsy specimens, from a series of 168 infants and children with constipation and other gastrointestinal problems, were stained with a sensitive acetylcholinesterase method, and the results were compared with routine histology, radiology, anorectal manometry, and the final diagnosis. In all cases of Hirschsprung's disease, there was an increase in numbers and sizes of cholinergic nerves in the lamina propria and muscularis mucosae. No false-positive or false-negative results were found. The test was found to be more reliable and consistent than other methods available.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / metabolism*
  • Adolescent
  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cholinergic Fibers / pathology
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Megacolon / diagnosis
  • Megacolon / enzymology
  • Megacolon / pathology*
  • Rectum / enzymology
  • Rectum / innervation
  • Rectum / pathology*


  • Acetylcholinesterase