Woman has hairball the size of a MELON removed from her stomach after it left her barely able to eat or drink

  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT 
  • Unnamed woman was rushed to hospital with a vomiting and swelling
  • Was unable to eat and vomited every time she took a sip of water
  • Doctors discovered six by four inch hairball in her stomach and intestine
  • Diagnosed her with Rapunzel syndrome  - where people eat their own hair

A woman who was hospitalised with swelling and vomiting astonished doctors when they discovered the cause was a giant hairball.

The 38-year-old was admitted suffering from constipation and an enlarged abdomen. 

She had lost more than a stone after having no appetite for the previous year, which doctors said left her looking tired with an unhealthy pale appearance.

Tests were inconclusive and surgeons were first to explore after her condition deteriorated. 

Surgeons were astonished to discover what was causing the sickness and swelling in the  woman's abdomen

Surgeons were astonished to discover what was causing the sickness and swelling in the  woman's abdomen

When surgeons operated they discovered a hairball lodged in her stomach, roughly the size of a melon, with a 'tail' going into the first part of her intestine.

It measured six by four inches with another, smaller, one in her large intestine.

She was diagnosed with Rapunzel syndrome, a rare condition in which a hairball (called a trichobezar) is found in the stomach, with its tail in the colon.

Named after the Grimms fairy tale character, is associated with trichotillomania, where sufferers have an irresistible urge to pull out one's hair, and trichophagia, the compulsive eating of hair. 

After surgery she was discharged six days alter and sent to see a psychiatrist and nutritionist.

A smaller hairball was found in the 38-year-old's intestine, according to the BMJ report

A smaller hairball was found in the 38-year-old's intestine, according to the BMJ report

In addition to reporting on this case, the group of US doctors reviewed 88 cases of Rapunzel syndrome, highlighting the rarity of the condition.

They found that the condition is most commonly seen in children and adolescents, is associated with an underlying psychiatric disorder, and document complications from untreated cases, and recommend treatments.

WHAT IS RAPUNZEL SYNDROME? 

Rapunzel syndrome is a rare condition where hairballs are found in the digestive tract. Pictured is the mass removed from a 16-year-old girl called Komal's stomach after she had been chewing on her hair for five years

Rapunzel syndrome is a rare condition where hairballs are found in the digestive tract. Pictured is the mass removed from a 16-year-old girl called Komal's stomach after she had been chewing on her hair for five years

Rapunzel syndrome is a rare condition where hairballs are found in the digestive tract after a person ingests their own hair.

It is predominantly found in young people who have learning disabilities or are emotionally disturbed.

A hairball - called a bezoar - extends from the stomach, with it's 'tail' in the small intestine. 

Hairballs are accumulations of human or vegetable fibers that accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract. 

They increase in size because hair and fibre is not absorbed.

They cause abdominal pain and nausea.

Sometimes people can present at healthcare facilities with a mass, but no symptoms, but it can progress to tearing and obstructing the stomach and bowel.

Most hairballs in children are from swallowed hair from the head, dolls, or brushes. 

Source: Clinical Medicine and Research journal 

 

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