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Pediatric Motility Specialist Joins Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California Pediatric Colorectal Program

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California recently welcomed Pediatric GI Motility Disorders Specialist Maheen Ahmed Hassan, M.D., to its medical staff. Dr. Hassan brings exciting new capabilities to the services provided in the hospital’s pediatric colorectal center.

Dr. Hassan performs manometry testing to study how different parts of the gastrointestinal tract are working and how food moves through the digestive system. During her signature testing, a thin, flexible catheter is sent through the esophagus, stomach or intestines. With the catheter, Dr. Hassan measures pressures, which reflect muscle contractions in the gastrointestinal tract to help diagnose a child who may have vague symptoms such as frequent vomiting or constipation. The gastrointestinal tract is long and the number of potential gastrointestinal diagnoses is large.

Motility testing can diagnose or monitor gastrointestinal conditions such as:

  • Achalasia: difficulty with food passing down into the stomach
  • Gastroparesis: difficulty with food passing through the stomach
  • Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction: a condition which may cause vomiting, abdominal pain and/or constipation
  • Hirschsprung disease: a birth condition where some of the intestine lacks nerves and, therefore, the ability to move feces along

“Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California is gaining attention for itself in colorectal care,” Dr. Hassan explained. “It’s becoming a referral base. Even places that have their own colorectal programs are referring here.”

Dr. Hassan earned her medical degree from UC Irvine, and she was trained in neurogastrointestinal motility at UC San Diego’s Rady Children’s Hospital.

“High-resolution manometry is a newer technology, having been available for only about 20 years,” Dr. Hassan said. “But it can be extremely beneficial.”

Explaining what she does by way of example, Dr. Hassan noted the case of a young infant she saw. This child had not been able to have a bowel movement on her own for a year, with no adequate explanation from numerous physicians. Her mother had to give her suppositories to stimulate her to defecate.

Periodically, she would get admitted to the hospital for a serious obstruction in her colon and, eventually, daily enemas were prescribed for her.

Dr. Hassan was able to examine the child with specialized instrumentation. She found that the patient had normal anatomy and sensory nerve function, but that her anal sphincter could not relax. That finding led her to treat the child with an injection of botulinum toxin (Botox) to paralyze the muscles a bit and help them relax. It worked.

“For the first time in her life, her belly was flat and not distended,” Dr. Hassan said. “She was able to stool on her own. She was able to tolerate her feeds better, which is so important for a growing child.”

Shriners Hospitals for Children — Northern California’s team of pediatric surgeons understand the physical and emotional impacts of colon and rectal diseases. To make an appointment please call our referral center at 916-453-2191 or contact us by email at A referral coordinator will partner with you to gather the necessary information to allow our physician leadership to evaluate the best path for your child.

Dr. Hassan

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