A five-year-old girl in India underwent surgery last Thursday to remove 3 pounds of hair mass from her stomach after she was diagnosed with a rare medical condition.
An hour-long surgery was performed at a hospital in the northern Indian city of Chandigarh by a five-member team led by Dr. Vivek Bhadoo, head of the surgery department. The team successfully removed the hair mass from her stomach, and the girl is said to be in a stable condition now, The Tribune reported.
She was diagnosed with a medical condition called trichobezoar, after her parents brought her to the hospital on complaints of stomach pain and swelling. Trichobezoar refers to a mass of undigested hair within the gastrointestinal tract.
The girl's parents told the doctors that she had been eating her hair for the last two and a half years despite their efforts to wean her habit.
"They tried to stop her and even cut her hair, but then she started eating the hair of other people," Dr. Vivek Bhadoo said, Hindustan Times reported.
The medical examination showed the hair she had ingested had grown into a big mass inside her stomach. "Her stomach got full with the hair mass. Hence she stopped eating anything, leading to malnourishment, swelling and stomach ache," Dr. Bhadoo told the publication. He also said the girl could not eat properly for the past 3-4 months.
Meanwhile, the doctor also noted that this condition was very rare among children, and he had not seen it in his 20 years of working at the hospital. However, he said that if not treated on time, the condition could lead to malnourishment and other complications.
"This condition is mainly associated with people suffering from a psychiatric disorder or those dealing with severe stress. However, it is very rare among children. Worldwide, its prevalence is 0.3%," Dr. Bhadoo further said.
While the girl is still under observation at the hospital, the doctors have advised her parents to keep a close watch on her and cut the child's hair for a few years.