Human and Doll's Hair in a Gastric Trichobezoar, Endoscopic Retrieval Hazards

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2020 Aug;71(2):163-170. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002779.


Trichobezoars are masses of ingested hair, usually the individual's own hair, that accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly in the stomach. When extending into the small intestine, this is termed "Rapunzel syndrome." Removal has traditionally been by laparotomy; however, successful endoscopic removal has also been described. We report the case of a 9-year-old-girl with undiagnosed coeliac disease and Rapunzel syndrome who underwent endoscopic removal of a large trichobezoar, which was followed by unexpected multiple perforations of the small bowel and stomach. Argon plasma coagulation (APC) and snare electrocautery were employed during endoscopy to remove the trichobezoar piecemeal, and approximately 70% was removed without any clear signs of damage to the mucosa. It was discovered subsequently that about 20 of her dolls were found without hair. On investigating the composition of a specific doll hair from the manufacturer, it was discovered that it could be hazardous if burned. It was, therefore, hypothesized that a constellation of factors had conspired to lead to perforation, that is, the potentially hazardous gas produced from the electrical energy applied to the synthetic hair and possible mucosal damage by the physical abrasion of this hair. A review of the literature on endoscopic attempts to remove trichobezoars irrespective of the result reveals a success rate of 30.7%.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bezoars* / etiology
  • Bezoars* / surgery
  • Child
  • Endoscopy
  • Female
  • Hair
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small
  • Stomach / diagnostic imaging
  • Stomach / surgery