Rapunzel syndrome

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The Rapunzel syndrome is an extremely rare intestinal condition in humans resulting from eating hair (trichophagia).[1][2] The syndrome is named after the long-haired girl Rapunzel in the fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. Trichophagia is sometimes associated with the hair-pulling disorder trichotillomania.[3]

Signs and symptoms[edit]

Characteristics of the syndrome include:

  • The body of a trichobezoar (hairball) located in the stomach, and its tail (hence the reference to Rapunzel in the syndrome's name) in the small bowel and/or in the right colon
  • Small or large bowel obstruction
  • Occurring in psychiatric patients
  • Trichotillomania


Because the human gastrointestinal tract is unable to digest human hair, the trichobezoar may have to be treated surgically.[4]


  1. ^ Sah DE, Koo J, Price VH (2008). "Trichotillomania" (PDF). Dermatol Ther 21 (1): 13–21. doi:10.1111/j.1529-8019.2008.00165.x. PMID 18318881. 
  2. ^ Ventura DE, Herbella FA, Schettini ST, Delmonte C (2005). "Rapunzel syndrome with a fatal outcome in a neglected child". J. Pediatr. Surg. 40 (10): 1665–7. doi:10.1016/j.jpedsurg.2005.06.038. PMID 16227005. 
  3. ^ Chamberlain SR, Menzies L, Sahakian BJ, Fineberg NA (April 2007). "Lifting the veil on trichotillomania". Am J Psychiatry 164 (4): 568–74. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.164.4.568. PMID 17403968. 
  4. ^ Gorter RR, Kneepkens CM, Mattens EC, Aronson DC, Heij HA (May 2010). "Management of trichobezoar: case report and literature review". Pediatr. Surg. Int. 26 (5): 457–63. doi:10.1007/s00383-010-2570-0. PMC 2856853. PMID 20213124. 

Further reading[edit]