Monday, August 6, 2012

Q: 23 year old male is admitted to ICU after severe Abdominal pain. CT scan reports foreign body obstruction. GI service performed upper and lower GI scope and advised surgical consult. Their diagnosis was Rapunzel syndrome?

Answer: The Rapunzel syndrome is a rare intestinal condition resulting from condition called trichophagia (eating hair).

Trichophagia is a severe form of condition called Trichotillomania (also known as "trichotillosis"). It is the compulsive urge to pull out one's own hair leading to noticeable hair loss. In trichophagia, people with trichotillomania may also ingest the hair that they pull; which can lead to a hair ball formation in GI tract called trichobezoar, and may cause GI obstruction.

Rapunzel syndrome, is an extreme form of trichobezoar in which the "tail" of the hair ball extends into the intestines, can be fatal if misdiagnosed. Because the human gastrointestinal tract is unable to digest human hair, the trichobezoar may require surgical treatment.

The syndrome is named after the long-haired girl Rapunzel in the fairy tale.

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