A teenager with Rapunzel syndrome threw off a giant hairball that had ruptured her stomach (picture)


Doctors removed a hairball more than 40 cm long from the stomach of a 17-year-old British teenager. The ball of hair was so large and heavy that the stomach was torn. The girl was suffering from Rapunzel syndrome, a condition linked to compulsive eating of hair. The condition is described in the BMJ Medical Journal.

The 17-year-old British girl was hospitalized after her death, apparently twice without cause and hurting her face, he describes. The case is in the BMJ Medical Journal. There, doctors discovered a large lump in her abdomen. The teenager described how she had suffered from abdominal pain over the past five months, which had intensified in recent weeks.

Then the CT scan revealed a large lump in her “extremely distended stomach”. Besides, that stomach was also torn. Doctors decided to operate on her and found a giant hairball more than 40 cm long. The hairball (also called bezoar) was so majestic that it completely filled the stomach and also took the shape of the organ due to pressure. You can see what this looks like at the bottom of the article (note: not for sensitive viewers).

Rapunzel syndrome

A teen has trichotillomania, in which patients have the urge to pull their hair out. Moreover, she also has trichotillomania, a compulsive eating of her. This leads to what is called Rapunzel syndrome, in which a hair ball develops trapped in the stomach and a tail that extends into the intestine. The syndrome is rare and usually occurs in young girls who have mental health problems.

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

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In general, the 17-year-old teenager was lucky. After a psychological examination and a seven-day break after the operation, she was allowed to leave the hospital. After a month, “I made a lot of progress with the help of nutritional advice,” says the treating doctors. In addition, the girl regularly visits a psychologist.

BMJ Case Reports 2021

Megan Vasquez

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