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5-year-old girl with hair-eating syndrome with intestinal obstruction requires urgent surgery

The girl has a syndrome named “cloud-haired princess” with a habit of eating hair. After surgery, the child has to undergo long-term psychological intervention.

On May 24, Children’s Hospital 2, Ho Chi Minh City, said that it had just operated on a girl with intestinal obstruction because of the habit of swallowing hair.

The patient is a 5-year-old girl, with intermittent, dull abdominal pain for about 5 days. When admitted to the hospital, the baby had severe abdominal pain, bowel obstruction accompanied by vomiting green fluid. Master, Doctor Ho Tran Ban, Head of the outpatient team and his colleagues diagnosed the baby with intestinal obstruction, requiring emergency surgery.

The surgery took out a giant bun, stuck for a long time, which was the cause of the baby’s pain for many days. Doctors said that this intestinal obstruction comes from Rapunzel syndrome, also known as “cloud-haired princess” syndrome – a fairy character with long and beautiful hair.

Not as shimmering as a fairy tale, this syndrome in real life can cause dangerous complications such as intestinal obstruction. People tend to crave for hair, but hair cannot be digested like food, which leads to bunions in the stomach or small intestine. This bun can be accompanied by a long ponytail because it is located along the intestinal lumen.

Children’s Hospital 2 Ho Chi Minh City still often receives cases of intestinal obstruction by Rapunzel syndrome but recently there is an increasing trend. In most cases, surgery is required to remove the bunion from the digestive tract. In particular, all pediatric patients need long-term follow-up psychological treatment.

Doctors recommend that parents and direct caregivers closely observe children, in order to detect problems early. At the same time, join the medical staff to help limit the behavior of swallowing hair and lift the child’s spirits to avoid repeating the above situation.

According to some studies in the world, Rapunzel syndrome often appears in women under 20 years old (accounting for about 70%). The youngest patient recorded was a toddler girl, and the oldest was a middle-aged man about 55 years old.

In addition, pathological hair loss is classified by the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association) in the group “Obsessive Compulsions and Related Disorders”.

Linh Giao

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