Colorectal Program | Overview

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Contact the Motility and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Center

  • 1-617-355-6055
  • International: +1-617-355-5209
  • Locations

Children seeking relief from colorectal disorders require the attention of trained specialists. Our colorectal program provides the highest quality care for children and their families. Our colorectal team is dedicated to providing expert diagnosis of colorectal disorders as well as personalized treatment plans. They are also world-renowned researchers and educators who are training the next generation of leaders in child health.

If your child has received or is preparing for surgery to correct their disorder, they also require specialized care to address complications, including colonic dysfunction, constipation and incontinence (inability to control bowel movement). Your child can receive that necessary care here, in a supportive and nurturing environment.

Boston Children’s Colorectal Program: Conditions We Treat

Patients are referred to Boston Children’s Colorectal Program from around the world for advanced testing and treatment of colorectal disorders, including:

  • Hirschprung’s disease: A blockage in the bowel that causes severe constipation or intestinal obstruction
  • Imperforate anus and anorectal malformations: Malformations or lack of development of the anus
  • Colonic atresia: A condition in which a part of the colon has not formed correctly, with the result that it is either blocked completely or missing altogether
  • Spina bifida and other colorectal complications associated to spinal defects
  • Intractable constipation
  • Intestinal pseudo-obstruction and other lower tract gastrointestinal motility disorders
  • Fecal incontinence

Tests and Therapeutic Treatments for Colorectal Disorders

The colorectal program at Boston Children’s is unique for many reasons, including our medicine-based approach. While between 10-30 percent of our patients require a surgical procedure (performed by our hospital’s world-class surgeons), the colorectal program is focused on therapeutic treatments beyond surgery.

We provide highly advanced evaluation for children with colorectal disorders.

  • Anorectal manometry: A non-invasive test that measures rectal nerve reflexes, pressure of the anal sphincter, and ability to squeeze and sense. Boston Children’s uses 3-D reconstruction and high definition manometry to construct a three-dimensional model of the anal canal. This provides insight into the abnormalities and guides therapy.
  • Colonic manometry: This test includes placing a catheter to measure contractions in the colon. It provides an understanding of the underlying movement in the colon after surgery.
  • Colorectal transit study: This procedure uses X-rays to monitor the movement of markers through the intestine and colon. 

Our team has led the development of new therapeutic options including:

  • Botox injections: The use of botulinum toxin for post-surgical defecation disorders in Hirschsprung’s disease
  • Antegrade colonic enemas: A procedure that is designed to help empty the bowel of feces, which our team has improved over time through their ongoing research
  • Specialized rectal interventions

Boston Children’s Colorectal Program: Our Approach

Doctors at the colorectal program look at more than just the lower intestinal tract. For example, a patient with Hirschsprung’s disease may also have other complications or co-morbidities. From dieticians to geneticists to ear, nose and throat specialists, our integrated care team will listen to all the concerns of you and your child that may be related to their disorder, addressing each and every one.

For children scheduled for a surgical procedure, our care team will support your child before, during and long after the surgery is complete. We are with you for your entire journey, ultimately helping your child return to school, activities and a more normal life.

Colorectal Research at Boston Children’s

Current research related to colorectal disorders includes:

  • Development and validation of new techniques to assess colonic and anorectal motility
  • Outcomes of pediatric colorectal disorders
  • The success of serum biomarkers in constipation in children
  • Tissue RNA biomarkers in constipation in children
  • Wireless motility capsules (SmartPill) and transit and motility studies

Make an Appointment

For an appointment, more information or to obtain a second opinion for your child, please contact the Motility and Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders Center at 617-355-6055 or request an appointment online.

We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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