WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT
Doctors have had to remove a huge 15lb hairball from a teenager's abdomen, following her habit of excessively chewing on her hair for many years.
The 17-year-old, who has been identified as Sweety Kumari, underwent an operation in eastern India's Jharkhand state on 31 August.
In a six-hour procedure, doctors were able to retrieve the 15lb (7kg) ball of hair from her abdomen.
According to local reports, the operation was carried out a private hospital in Jharkhand's Bokaro district by a team of doctors led by Dr. GN Sahu.
Video footage shows the medics pulling out the large, entangled mass of hair from her abdomen, which had been building up inside her over the course of several years.
Dr. Sahu said it was the first time in his 40-year career that he'd come across such a massive accumulation of hair in someone's abdomen.
It was first suspected that Kumari may have a tumour in her stomach following an ultrasound examination almost three years ago.
But doctors found out that the youngster had a habit of chewing her hair, which had led to the giant hairball accumulating inside her body, lacing her entire stomach.
Hair is not biodegradable, so if people habitually chew and swallow strands, they can collect in the stomach and form together into a clump.
Sources suggest Kumari is stable, and is due to be released from hospital following a preliminary observation.
The condition is known as Rapunzel syndrome - cases of which, while uncommon, have been reported on previous occasions.
According to the British Medical Journal, as of 2018 there were only around 90 reported cases of Rapunzel syndrome.
The presence of the hairball can cause a multitude of problems, including dehydration, malnutrition, vomiting, abdominal pain and bowel obstruction.
"Hair being slippery gets trapped in gastric mucosal folds, eluding peristalsis," the BMJ said.
"More and more hair conglomerate to form a stomach-shaped mass coated with mucus called trichobezoar. This provides it a shiny glistening surface, and the acid secreted in stomach denatures the hair protein which gives it the typical black colour.3
"When the tail of hair extends beyond the stomach into the small intestine, it is called RS [Rapunzel syndrome]."
In the 2018 issue, BMJ also reported the case of a six-year-old girl who was found to have a hairball weighing 2100g and measuring approximately 11cm by 16cm with 110cm 'tail'.
The girl's parents said their daughter did have a habit of putting her hair in her mouth, which she had most likely been swallowing over the years.
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