Rapunzel syndrome, ever heard of it? If you are like most of us, you think it sounds like a condition where someone grows their hair forever without as much as a trim. However, it turns out to be something way more disgusting.
Rapunzel syndrome was named after the long-haired girl in the fairytale. It is associated with trichotillomania and trichophagia, disorders where people compulsively pull out and eat their own hair. In Rapunzel syndrome, a hairball develops in the stomach and a long “tail” extends into the intestine, hence the name.
The BMJ Case Reports journal recently documented a case of a 38-year-old woman who had a severe case of Rapunzel syndrome.
In the case, the woman sought medical attention when she suddenly suffered from extreme vomiting and constipation. The 38-year-old had lost about 15 pounds in eight months.
She went to a hospital and doctors noticed her stomach was very swollen with gas and fluid. Doctors then performed a surgery to get to the root of the problem. Whilst in the operating room, a six-inch wide hairball was pulled from out of her stomach.
The “tail” extended down into the top of her intestines, where a smaller — about four centimeter — hairball was found.
After six days of medical treatment, the woman was released and sent for psychiatric evaluation.
(Photo: BarA Muratolu/Getty Images)