Doctors removed a 48 cm long hairball from the stomach of a 17-year-old girl in the United Kingdom. The girl, who had eaten her own hair, had grown a huge hairball inside her stomach that was pushing against and breaking through the wall of her stomach.
The oval-shaped hairball absolutely filled the teenager’s stomach, Times Now reported, citing a report published in the BMJ Case Reports.
Doctors had diagnosed the adolescent with Rapunzel syndrome. This is an unusual deliberate disease that occurs in humans due to the continued ingestion of fur. The compulsive consumption of hair is termed trichophagia.
The teenager was taken to the hospital after she fainted twice. She had bruised her head and scalp during the falls. While treating her, doctors noticed swelling in the teenager’s upper abdomen.
The doctors concluded that the swelling could not be caused by her injuries during the falls. The patient told the doctors that she had been experiencing intermittent abdominal pain for the last five months. The abdominal pain had worsened in the past two weeks leading to her hospitalisation.
A CT scan revealed a large mass inside the patient’s “grossly distended stomach”. The scan also showed a tear in the organ lining, according to the authors of the study who are from Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham in the UK. The hairball developing inside her had grown so large it had “formed a cast of the entire stomach”.
The patient had been suffering from trichotillomania which is a condition in which people develop a strong urge to pull out their own hair, according to the study as per Times Now. The patient also suffered from trichophagia.
Having both trichotillomania and trichophagia is an extremely rare condition.
According to the National Organization for Uncommon Disorders, between 0.5 per cent and 3 per cent of the human population will experience trichotillomania at some stage in their lives. Just 10-3-percent of these individuals also have trichophagia.
One week after the hairball was taken out of her stomach, the woman was released from the hospital. After psychiatric examination and post-operative recovery, she was discharged. The doctors confirmed a month after she was discharged that the patient “was progressing well with dietary advice” and met a therapist regularly.