Hyderabad: Surgeons at Osmania General Hospital (OGH) have saved the life of a 17-year-old girl who was suffering from an extremely rare medical condition known as Rapunzel Syndrome, in which a huge ball of hair stays in the stomach for a long time and triggering associated health complications.
Although the name Rapunzel is derived from fairy tales, Rapunzel syndrome usually does not have a happy ending. The medical condition occurs when a person has a hairball in the stomach due to the habit of chewing and swallowing the hair. The medical condition is also known as Trichobezoars, which forms a ball of hair in the stomach with a ‘tail’ that extends into the intestine.
The 17-year-old girl Poojitha Mandala, a resident of Gaganpahad, Shamshabad, presented all these medical conditions when she visited OGH.
The girl had recently recovered from Covid-19 and visited OGH with complaints of abdomen pain for the past three months and multiple episodes of vomiting. The doctors said the patient had a history of plucking her hair and eating them, for the past five to six months.
The OGH surgeons conducted the surgery on June 2 and retrieved a mass composed of hair and other foreign materials of 150 cm length and weighing about 2 kg. Out of the 150 cm length of hair ball, about 30 cm of hair was in the stomach while 120 cm of hair ball was in the small bowel, surgeons said.
“This is an extremely rare case and according to our records there are only 68 such cases that have been reported so far. Moreover, our case has the longest specimen that has been reported so far worldwide. The typical symptoms for Rapunzel syndrome include anorexia, bloating, early satiety, weight loss, vomiting, stomach pain and hair loss on the scalp,” said Superintendent, OGH Dr B Nagender, who led the surgery, along with other senior surgical team.
Dr Nagender said that human hair is resistant to digestion and that’s why it tends to stay in the stomach for a long time and eventually forms into a huge hairball.
The surgery was led by Head of Surgery and Superintendent, Dr B Nagender, Associate Professor, Dr G Anil Kumar, Assistant Professors Dr A Ajitha along with other team members including PG students and the anesthesia team that was led by Dr Pandu Naik and Dr Pavani.