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Rapunzel syndrome: kids addicted to eating hair

Update: March, 01/2017 - 17:00
The pain’s gone: Dr Đào Trung Hiếu, deputy head of HCM City Paediatrics Hospital 1, examines a six-year-old girl who had a ball of hair removed from her stomach and small intestine. — VNA/VNS Photo Phương Vy
Viet Nam News

HCM CITY — Doctors at the HCM City Paediatrics Hospital 1 have successfully operated and removed a ball of hair 12cm in diameter from the stomach and small intestine of a six-year-old girl.

Dr Đào Trung Hiếu, deputy head of  the hospital, said that the patient from Đồng Nai Province’s Biên Hòa City was hospitalised in the middle of last month with abdominal pain. The girl was also vomiting after eating, and very malnourished, weighing just 13kg.

An ultrasound scan showed that the ball of hair extended from the stomach to the small intestine, and was 40cm long, Hiếu said.

The girl was diagnosed with Rapunzel Syndrome, and doctors quickly operated on her to remove the bezoar.

The patient’s mother was surprised on seeing the ball of hair removed out her daughter’s stomach. She said they, the parents were not aware that the girl had been ingesting hair.

However, about six months ago, the mother did see her child pick up fallen hairs and put them into her mouth. She scolded her daughter and forbade her from doing it again.

Two months ago, the patient’s abdomen became abnormally large and she had occasional pangs of pain.

She was taken to a local private health clinic, where she was diagnosed as suffering from enlarged spleen and liver; and treated accordingly.

When the pain did not subside after treatment, the mother decided to take her to HCM City Paediatrics Hospital 1 for further treatment.

Dr Hiếu said that performing surgery to remove the bun of hair was not difficult, but it was important to provide psychological help to the child and help her give up the habit of eating hair.

The parents should spend more time talking and playing with their daughter to help her forget the habit, he said.

Within the last three years, the hospital has seen 10 cases of Rapunzel Syndrome, but the bun of hair in this girl’s stomach was the largest, he added.

In half the cases, the parents did not know that their children had the habit of eating hair, the doctor said. — VNS


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