Teenager with ‘Rapunzel Syndrome’ got rid of giant hairball, which made her stomach upset (photo)


Doctors removed a hairball more than 40 cm from the abdomen of a 17-year-old British teenager. The hairball was so big and heavy that the stomach was ripped. The girl was suffering from ‘Rapunzel Syndrome’, a condition associated with compulsory eating of hair. The case was described in the medical journal BMJ.

According to the report in the medical journal BMJ, a 17-year-old girl from the UK was rushed to the hospital after passing without any reason and suffered injuries on her face. The doctors there detected a large swelling in her abdomen. The teenager told how she had been suffering from abdominal pain in the last five months, which had intensified in recent weeks.

A CT scan revealed that he had a large mass in his “very deformed abdomen”. In addition, his stomach was also torn. The doctors decided to perform an operation on it and found a huge hairball 40 cm long. The hairball (also called bezoar) was so effective that it filled the abdomen completely and also took the shape of the limb due to pressure. You can see what looks at the bottom of the article (note: not for sensitive viewers).

Rapunzel syndrome

The teenager suffers from trichotillomania, urging patients to pull their hair out. On top of that, he also has trichophagia, a mandatory food for him. This is called ‘Rapunzel syndrome’, in which a hairball stuck in the stomach is formed with a tail that spreads to the intestines. The syndrome is rare and usually occurs in young girls with mental health problems.

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Rapunzel syndrome can cause serious problems such as peritonitis and perforation of the stomach. It is fatal in severe cases. In 2017, a 16-year-old British girl died in the condition.

Overall, the 17-year-old teenager in question has been lucky. After a psychiatric examination and a seven-day rest after the operation, he was allowed out of the hospital. The treating doctors say that a month later, “she made a lot of progress with the help of nutritional advice.” In addition, the girl regularly visits a psychologist.

BMJ Case Report 2021

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About the Author: Rusty Kemp

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