In a rare case, doctors at Christian Medical College and Hospital operated upon a nine-year-old boy, who used to eat hair, and removed a 300gm lump of hair from his stomach.
The patient was brought to the emergency department of CMCH with a history of abdominal pain, fever and vomiting, swelling over face, lower limbs and weight loss for three months. He was not able to eat food and his weight was decreasing significantly.
On examination, painful swelling in the upper abdomen was found. Laboratory values were showing low haemoglobin and protein, and abdominal radiographs revealed a large mass within the stomach.
A computed tomographic (CT) scan of the abdomen was obtained, revealing a large mass made up of hair which was in the stomach with extension into the small intestine.
Dr William Bhatti, professor and head of paediatric surgery, CMCH, and a team of doctors, comprising Dr N Bedi, Dr A Gupta, Dr S Dhuria and Dr R Saleem, operated on the child for around five hours and successfully removed the lump of hair from the stomach and the small intestine.
“The lump of hair (Trichobezoar) was completely obstructing the stomach and small intestine, and there was no space available for food to move forward in the intestine. Patient was kept on nil per orally for seven days and was on intravenous fluids. A complete inpatient psychiatric assessment was also performed on him, which did not reveal any abnormalities. The boy was discharged from the hospital after two weeks in a satisfactory condition,” said Dr Bhatti.
The doctor further explained that eating hair which lead to formation of hair lump inside the stomach was a rare condition.
He said the problem was seen more often in girls. “This patient's case is rare, as the lump of hair had extensions into the small intestine leading to obstruction of intestine, in a male child (Rapunzel Syndrome),” he said.
Dr Bhatti said the mother of the child was aware of his habit of eating hair, but could not consult a doctor, because of her poor socioeconomic condition. He encouraged parents to consult a doctor if they noticed abnormal eating behaviour in children.