KEY POINTS

  • The incident occurred in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu
  • The girl was admitted to a hospital after having decreased appetite and weight loss
  • Doctors found 3 pounds of hair mass inside her stomach

A 15-year-old girl, suffering from a rare condition that made her eat her own hair, underwent a surgery in India to remove a monster hairball from her stomach.

The incident took place in Vallipuram, a village in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. According to media reports, the girl, weighing just 77 pounds, was admitted to a hospital after reporting decreased appetite, weight loss and repeated episodes of vomiting.

After conducting some tests, the doctors decided to perform a surgery. They were shocked to find a nearly 3-pound hairball matted inside her stomach. The hair mass had made it impossible for her to digest any food or retain any nutrients, Yahoo News Australia reported, citing the doctors. 

The teenager's family was unaware that she had been compulsively eating her own hair for the past two years. Doctors said she was suffering from the Rapunzel Syndrome – a rare disorder caused by the ingestion of the hair (trichophagia). The condition occurs when the hair passes through into the small intestine and produces a tail of hair, which goes out of the stomach. Experts said so far there has only been 65 such cases recorded worldwide.

“The girl was brought to the hospital with complaints of abdominal pain and vomiting and underwent scanning,” Dr R Raja Mahendran, a surgical gastroenterologist at RRM Gastro Hospital, said, according to News Express. However, it was unclear when the surgery took place. 

“Initially, we thought that it was an abdominal mass but a closer examination with endoscopy revealed that the teen had a habit of eating her own hairs.”

The girl has been discharged following the surgery and was recovering well, doctors reportedly said.

In another similar incident reported last month, a 5-year-old girl in India's Chandigarh state underwent surgery to remove 3 pounds of hair mass from her stomach. The girl was diagnosed with the rare medical condition Trichobezoar, in which a mass of undigested hair was found within the gastrointestinal tract. In this case too, the girl had been eating her hair for the last two and a half years. "They tried to stop her and even cut her hair, but then she started eating the hair of other people," Dr. Vivek Bhadoo said at the time. “This condition is mainly associated with people suffering from a psychiatric disorder or those dealing with severe stress. However, it is very rare among children. Worldwide, its prevalence is 0.3%.”

surgery-1807541_640 (3) Representational image Photo: pixabay