She had been pulling out and eating her own hair since she was a toddler
Doctors at a hospital in Kalyan in Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) removed 650 grams of hair that had accumulated in a 12-year-old girl’s stomach.
The girl, whose name has been withheld because she is a minor, had been pulling out and eating her own hair since she was a toddler and over the years this had turned into a large ball making her sick and causing intense pain in the stomach.
This condition is seen in people with psychological disorder Trichophagia – a compulsive urge to eat hair — said Rohit Paryani, general & laparoscopic surgeon from Starcity Multispeciality Hospital, Kalyan (East), where the procedure was conducted.
“The parents said she started eating hair from the age of two. Initially they didn’t take it seriously until her stomach was so tightly packed with the hair that she was unable to eat normal food, had pain and recurrent vomiting causing significant weight loss,” said Dr. Paryani.
“Her weight is only 20 kg which is less than half the normal weight for her age. CT scan revealed that the whole stomach was filled with tightly packed hair,” he said.
Surgeons ruled out minimally invasive laparoscopic surgeries because they feared locks of hair may entangle in the instrument used for the procedure making the situation worse.
“Two days ago we conducted open surgery and pulled out the hair which weighed about 650gm and occupied all of the space in the stomach. That explains why she is malnourished and hasn’t been having a good appetite,” Dr. Paryani said.
A small amount of hair ingested accidentally generally comes out of the body, but when there is constant ingestion, the hair settles in the stomach causing trichobezoars (hair in the stomach).
Hospital officials said the girl was eating normal food in the ward after the surgery and recovering fast.
According to the National Organisation for Rare Disorders, between 0.5% and 3% of people will experience trichotillomania at some point in their lives. Only about 10% to 30% of people with trichotillomania also have trichophagia, as reported by Live Science, a press statement by the hospital said.
Also, a 2019 study published in Pancreas noted that only about 1% among people with both conditions develop a mass of hair in their gastrointestinal tract, the statement added.
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