Hair-thread strangulation syndrome in childhood: a systematic review

Swiss Med Wkly. 2023 Nov 9:153:40124. doi: 10.57187/smw.2023.40124.


Introduction: Hair-thread strangulation syndrome describes the constriction of a body part by a tightly wound hair or thread. This research aims to review the literature about this entity.

Methods: A systematic review was performed to characterise hair-thread strangulation syndrome in subjects aged ≤16 years. This pre-registered review (PROSPERO ID: CRD42022363996) followed the PRISMA methodology.

Results: Subjects with digital strangulation were significantly younger (median = 4.0 [interquartile range: 2.0-6.1] months; n = 143) than females with genital strangulation (9.0 [6.8-11] years; n = 36), males with genital strangulation (5.1 [1.9-8.0] years; n = 36), and subjects with non-digital and non-genital strangulation (24 [13-48] months; n = 11). Digital strangulation was followed by an amputation in five (3.5%) and a reconstructive surgical intervention in seven (4.9%) cases. Sequelae occurred in four (11%) cases after female genital strangulation: clitoris autoamputation (n = 2) and surgical removal of a necrotic labium minus (n = 2). Severe complications were observed in 14 (39%) cases with male genital strangulation: urethral fistula (n = 7), urethral transection (n = 2), and partial penile autoamputation (n = 5). A partial uvular autoamputation was observed in one case (9.0%) with non-digital and non-genital strangulation.

Conclusions: Early recognition and management are crucial to avoid sequelae or long-term care in hair-thread strangulation syndrome.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hair*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Plastic Surgery Procedures*
  • Software