Doctors in Mumbai removed a 100 gm hairball from the stomach of a 10-year-old girl who used to pull her hair and eat it. The girl was known to have trichophagia, compulsive eating of hair linked to trichotillomania (hair pulling) leading to intense stomach pain. The patient is doing well after the 2-hour surgery, said doctors at Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital For Children successfully conducted the surgery.
The patient was suffering from intermittent abdominal pain, which didn't stop even after giving her medication, and got worsened over time.
Kiara Bansal (name changed), a resident of Dadar, Mumbai was taking period medication as she got menses at the early age of 9. The patient was having heavy bleeding followed by stomach pain for over a year but it didn't interfere with her daily routine. She didn't have any other signs or symptoms such as vomiting, loose motions, or weight loss. Her family consulted various doctors who performed an ultrasound and associated the pain with mesenteric lymphadenitis which is swelling of the lymph nodes of the abdomen and prescribed medication. This condition is commonly seen in patients of her age group leading to abdominal pain. The patient was given symptomatic treatment to manage the pain. The patient while touching her stomach felt a presence of a hard mass and reported this to her mother, who rushed her to the hospital for further treatment.
CT scan showed a trichobezoar, a mass of hair in the stomach
Dr Parag Karkera, Pediatric Surgeon, Bai Jerbai Wadia Hospital For Children said, "On clinical examination, we could feel a lump in the abdomen and admitted the patient. Patients with pain in the abdomen come routinely but there is no lump present. We conducted a CT scan which showed a trichobezoar which is a mass of hair in the stomach and some part of the mass was going into the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). Hair is not able to dissolve, so it remains in the digestive system then it turns into a ball or mass, which keeps on growing. This is rarely seen among children. This patient had trichotillomania (a condition wherein one develops a strong urge to pull out their own hair). She was also suffering from trichopagia, a condition in which one eats his/her own hair. Even her parents were unaware of her eating hair. After investigations, she was posted for laparotomy, with gastrostomy and removal of the mass."
Dr Karkera added, "Gastrotomy means making an opening in the stomach to remove the bezoar, in this case trichobezoar, a mass made up of the swallowed hair. The uneventful procedure lasted around 2 hours after which 100 grams of hairball was removed."
The girl was discharged within a week after the operation and she was doing well on follow-up.
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Dr Karkera cautioned that not treating her at the right time could have led to complications such as intestinal obstruction or perforated intestines, meaning a hole in the wall of the stomach, and small intestine.