INDIA( Maharashtra) Mumbai A 32-inch long rugby ball-shaped hairball weighing 1.2 kg was removed from the stomach of a 13-year-old girl after over an hour-long surgery at a private hospital in Vasai (Mumbai). The condition came to light after the girl was admitted to the hospital as she was unable to eat or drink anything for days. Doctors said the girl had Rapunzel Syndrome, wherein one ingests their own hair.
The girl had recently complained of severe abdominal pain and bouts of vomiting and indigestion. Her parents took her to a private clinic and followed the prescription, but her condition did not improve. She would also throw up minutes after eating anything.
Then She was taken to D’souza Hospital in Vasai West where doctors suggested that sonography be done. The report revealed that there was an accumulation of human hair in her gastrointestinal tract.
Dr. Joseph D’souza, who conducted the surgery, said, “After examining her stomach and studying the sonography report, I spoke to the girl’s parents and learned that she had a history of swallowing her own hair and chewing her nails for the past seven-eight years. It is known as Rapunzel Syndrome.”
“After the surgery lasting an hour and a half, we successfully managed to remove a huge hairball that is 32-inch long with a circumference of 13 inches and weighs 1.2 kg. The hairball was mixed with food particles and gastric juice inside the stomach. The surgeon added that the girl would throw up after eating anything “as the hairball had caused acute intestinal obstruction for food”.
Dr. D’souza said She is currently under observation at the hospital.
Speaking about Rapunzel Syndrome that led to the hairball, Dr. D’souza said, “The compulsive eating of one’s hair, which is known as trichophagia, is found more in young girls than boys. These kids chew the hair before swallowing it unconsciously.” He added that it is a psychiatric disorder.
“Since human hair can’t be digested, it gets accumulated in the stomach to cause intestinal pain,” he added.
“Children, having such psychiatric disorders, often crave these non-food items. These children need psychological counseling and good care. I would suggest parents be more attentive to their children if they come across any disorders like swallowing their own hair,” Dr. D’souza suggested.