Throughout the years, there have been some weird things discovered in people’s stomachs, but this recent news is one for the books. A girl caught worldwide attention after a huge hairball was found in her stomach.
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At first, the five-year-old girl complained about having no appetite. According to the doctors who shared their thoughts on the girl’s case in BMJ Case Reports, the patient was suffering from abdominal pain that was slowly getting worse over the following weeks. The girl visited a hospital in Adelaide, Australia, and doctors discovered that there was a large hairball that was clogged in her digestive system.
Doctors later diagnosed the girl with Rapunzel syndrome as further investigations revealed that the patient has long had experiences of vomiting a large ball of matted hair and finding strands of hair in her feces. Rapunzel syndrome is characterized by trichophagia, a disorder that makes the sufferer eat her hair, which is often associated with trichotillomania, the compulsive pulling of one’s hair. The girl is said to have already reached the worst stage of the syndrome, evidenced by the forming of a trichobezoar, or hair ball, in her stomach.
Abrasions were also spotted in the girl’s small intestine and stomach. According to doctors, hair strands slowly build up inside the patient’s body as it can’t flow through the internal organs (like the intestines) when the muscles contract.
After undergoing a two-hour operation, the hairball was successfully removed, which weighed around 125 grams. The girl was able to recover and eat again after the surgery.
Doctors mentioned that if the hairball had not been taken out on time, it could’ve led to more severe complications like pancreatitis, jaundice, blocking of the digestive tract, tearing of the stomach and intestines, as well as ulcer. To help the girl overcome her problem and to avoid it from happening again, she was sent for a behavioral therapy, aiming to help her stop eating and pulling out her hair.
According to doctors, the Rapunzel syndrome is an extremely rare disease, with only 120 reported cases of it around the world.