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Mumbai doctor removes gigantic hairball from 10-year-old girl’s abdomen

 Mumbai doctor removes gigantic hairball from 10-year-old girl’s abdomen

Story by Sagaya Fernando
Mumbai : April 1, 2018

At times few people have peculiar habits and at times they are shocking. What may seem like a weird urge to do something unusual can turn out to be extremely unhealthy as it develops into an obsession and can be even fatal.

In a rare surgery conducted at Bhaktivedanta Hospital, Mira Road – a suburb of Mumbai city in India, recently a senior surgeon Dr. Bimal Shah removed in one piece a large 32 inches long hairball from the abdomen of a 10-year-old girl from a well to do educated family.

The gigantic Trichobezoa forming a complete cast of nearly the entire stomach, duodenum and upper small intestine was extracted.

“A month back the girl child started complaining of mild stomach ache and vomited once a day. Her parents assumed that it was probably a sign of the examination fever. Soon they realized that their daughter’s appetite had reduced; she ate only a little rice on being forcefully fed and vomited two to three times a day. Concerned about her deteriorating health they showed her to a couple of pediatricians prior to consulting me,” said Dr. Shah.

He added, “Abdominal Ultrasonography followed by an Upper Gastrointestinal Endoscopy helped to diagnose the rare medical condition. Being completely unaware that their daughter was suffering from Trichotillomania the parents were shocked to know the findings of the tests.”

“Immediate surgical elimination was advised to bring relief to the child. This rare medical condition is called Trichobezoar meaning formation of a mass in gastrointestinal track comprising indigestible human hairs. The Class VI student was suffering from Trichotillomania - an impetuous disorder of pulling out one’s own hair or collecting the fallen hair strands of other people, chewing and swallowing
them (called Trichophagia),” said Dr. Shah.

He further added, “Trichotillomania indicates that the child is under stress or anxiety and is pulling out hair to relieve the same. The root cause of stress or anxiety needs to be determined by a child psychologist, followed by behavioral therapy to heal the child. Parents need to understand the child’s psychology and cultivate good parenting skills to raise healthy and happy children. From the size of the hairball, it seems she must have been eating her hair since many years. However, her mother said she
never noticed her daughter putting hair strands into her mouth. This means she was secretly eating the hairs possibly whenever she was in stress or due to obsession.”

The syndrome is so rare that less than 120 such cases have been reported in medical literature from around the world, and according to doctors, it mostly affects young girls and psychiatric patients. Trichobezoars are rare, but can be fatal if undetected. Named after 19th century German Brothers Grimm’s fairy tale about a princess held hostage in a tower where the only way to enter or exit was through a window by climbing up on her extremely long hair. Rapunzel syndrome refers to complications when a large hairball blocks the digestive tract.

Although this case of 10 year old girl sounds nothing like a fairy tale, this story does have a happy ending and the girl has recovered very well and discharged from the hospital, said Dr. Shah.


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