Hyderabad: In one of the rarest cases in medical history, Poojitha Mandala, a 17-year-old from Gaganpahad, Shamshabad has been treated for Rapunzel Syndrome. The Osmania General Hospital surgeons who operated on her stomach and intestine on 2 June retrieved a mass of hair and other foreign materials (trichobezoar) of 150 cm length and weighing about 2 kg. The hair mass had taken the shape of the stomach and intestine.

Rapunzel Syndrome is an extremely rare intestinal condition in humans resulting from ingesting hair. The syndrome was named after the long-haired girl Rapunzel in a fairy tale. This syndrome is a rare and unusual form of trichobezoar.

"Human hair is resistant to digestion and that's why it tends to stay in the stomach for a long time and eventually forms a huge hairball. We have seen cases of people eating hair and getting operated upon later when the hair gets stuck in the stomach. However, it is rare seeing hair getting stuck in the intestine, which is seen in Poojitha's case. So far, only 67 patients have been treated for Rapunzel syndrome in the world," said Dr B. Nagender, superintendent and doctor who led the surgery at the OGH.

Poojitha had visited the Osmania General Hospital on 26 April for the first time with complaints of abdominal pain and occasional vomiting. Before examination could be done, she tested positive for COVID so the treatment got delayed.

On 30 May, she visited the hospital again with pain and vomiting. The doctors admitted and examined her. They found out that hair was stuck in her stomach and intestine which was causing her pain.

"She comes from a very poor background and stays with her sister. Her father is suffering from Amyoplasia and her mother is taking care of him. Her sister informed us that the patient plucks her hair and eats it. Eating hair is common in some psychiatric patients," said Dr B. Nagendra.

Poojitha will get discharged from the hospital on 12 June.

Dr Nagendra adds that it is rare to see such cases at the OGH. "We tell people that even with less infrastructure than corporate hospitals, we at OGH, can treat and operate on such rare diseases too," said Dr Nagendra.


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