A giant hairball has been removed from a woman in the US who was addicted to pulling out and eating her own hair.
The hairball, measuring 15 centimetres, was removed from her stomach.
The 38-year-old had suffered dramatic weight loss, losing 15 pounds over the previous eight months after she lost her appetite.
She landed in hospital after suffering from nausea, vomiting and an extremely swollen abdomen.
She was then rushed into surgery, where a giant hairball was found lodged in her digestive tract, with a small “tail” of hair trailing into her intestines and a second four centimetre hairball nestled deeper in her bowel.
She was later diagnosed with the rare Rapunzel Syndrome, which has only ever been documented 88 times in medical literature.
According to the BMJ journal, the syndrome is caused by trichotillomania, a disorder that causes a patient to develop an irresistible urge to pull out their own hair, and sometimes eat it.
Named after the long-haired Rapunzel from the Grimm brothers’ fairy tale, it is extremely uncommon but can cause potentially deadly side effects and complications as hair becomes lodged in the sufferer’s stomach.
Typical symptoms include nausea, vomiting, altered bowel habits, abdominal distension and weight loss.
Complications can be severe and include bowel obstruction, bowel perforation, intestinal bleeding, anaemia, weight loss and appendicitis.
Surgeons removed both hairballs from the woman and she was released from hospital after six days, with recommendations to seek psychological therapy.
She was also treated for malnutrition and advised to eat food high in proteins, such as eggs and chicken chest, and a daily iron supplement.