Doctors removed a 48 cm long hairball from the stomach of a 17-year old teenager in the United Kingdom. The teenager, who had been eating her own hair, had developed a massive hairball inside her stomach which was pushing against and tearing through the stomach wall.
The oval-shaped hairball had completely filled the teenager's stomach, Times Now reported, citing a report published in BMJ Case Reports.
Doctors had diagnosed the teenager with Rapunzel syndrome. This is a rare intentional condition which develop in humans due to continued ingestion of hair. Compulsive eating of hair is known as 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.
Between 0.5% to 3% of the human population will experience trichotillomania at some point in their lives, according to the National Organization for Rare Disorders. Out of these people, only 10-3-% also have trichophagia.
The patient was released from the hospital one week after the hairball was taken out of her stomach. She was discharged after psychiatric evaluation and post-operative healing. A month after she was discharged, the doctors reported that the patient "was progressing well with dietary advice" and was regularly meeting a therapist.