A new case of the virtually unknown Rapunzel syndrome has left doctors dumbstruck, as they removed a huge 1.5m long 'hair' rope from the intestines of a 14-years old girl.
With mere 30 cases registered worldwide until the year 2010, this new case seems to be an example of how life-threatening this condition could prove to be.
Rapunzel syndrome, also known as Trichophagia in scientific terms, basically causes the affected individual to pluck and eat on strands of his/her own hair.
Fourteen year-old Sukanya (name changed), who is a resident of Faridabad, India, had been suffering from this condition since a long time, and had a habit of eating her own hair. The hair seemed to go on accumulating in the intestines, creating an obstruction, which further caused her to suffer from stomach pain for over four years.
After four years of undiagnosed stomach pain, Sukanya was finally admitted to a private hospital, where she was operated upon, and a hair rope, around 1.5 meters long, was removed from her stomach.
"Blood tests and ultrasound did not show any abnormality but a CT scan revealed a huge mass of hair in her abdomen," Dr. Parabal Roy, senior consultant of advanced surgery at the Asian Institute of Medical Sciences, explained.
"The girl later admitted to eating her hair."It had formed a 1.5-metre rope inside her entire stomach and extended into her intestines, causing intestinal obstruction. The hair was cutting through the bowel wall and could have caused a life threatening perforation," he added.
While Sukanya is doing fine post-surgery, and is expected to undergo psychiatric counseling as well, to prevent recurrence, this case seems to have shed light on some important factors associated with the Rapunzel syndrome.
Due to a lack of proper information and the rarity of this condition, it often gets undiagnosed and it can prove to be life-threatening as well. Common symptoms associated with this condition include weight loss, obstructive jaundice, anemia, nausea and vomiting, intense stomach pain, deficiency of vitamin B12, and more.