At what age is a suction rectal biopsy less likely to provide adequate tissue for identification of ganglion cells?

Joseph M. Croffie, Mary M. Davis, Philip R. Faught, Mark R. Corkins, Sandeep K. Gupta, Marian D. Pfefferkorn, Jean P. Molleston, Joseph F. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine at what age suction rectal biopsy is less likely to provide adequate tissue to detect submucosal ganglion cells in a child being evaluated for Hirschsprung disease. PATIENTS AND METHODS: Children ≥1 year of age undergoing a rectal biopsy at a single children's hospital had 1 biopsy each obtained simultaneously with a suction biopsy device and a grasp biopsy forceps. The biopsies were examined by 2 pathologists for adequacy of the submucosa (none, scant, adequate, or ample) and the presence of ganglion cells. The 2 specimens were compared with each other. RESULTS: One hundred fifty-two children 1 to 17 years of age were included. Fifty-three were female. Subjects were grouped into 4 age categories: 1 to 3 years (group A), 4 to 6 years (group B), 7 to 9 years (group C), and ≥10 years (group D). Similar numbers of patients were recruited for each group. Ganglion cells were identified in 73% and 90% by the suction and grasp devices, respectively, in group A. In groups B through D, ganglion cells were identified in 50% to 53% vs 92% to 97% of the suction and grasp biopsies, respectively (P < 0.001). Submucosa was present in 88% (suction) vs 98% (grasp) in group A, 70% vs 95% in group B, 69% vs 94% in group C, and 45% vs 92% in group D. CONCLUSION: The suction rectal biopsy is less likely to provide adequate submucosa for identification of ganglion cells after 3 years of age.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)198-202
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007



  • Ganglion cells
  • Hirschsprung disease
  • Rectal biopsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology
  • Histology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Food Science
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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