The Rapunzel syndrome is an unusual form of trichobezoar found in patients with a history of psychiatric disorders, trichotillomania (habit of hair pulling) and trichophagia (morbid habit of chewing of hair) consequently developing gastric bezoars. The principal symptoms are vomiting and epigastric pain, even jaundice or pancreatitis because of obstruction at the level of the ampulla of Vater.
This syndrome is named after the girl with the long tresses in the fairy tale written by the Grimm Brothers in 1812. The Rapunzel syndrome was first reported in the literature by Vaughan et al. in 1968 and was so named because the length of the hair & the uncommonness of the situation are characteristics both of the fairy tale and of the clinical cases described in the report published by these investigators.
The Rapunzel syndrome is rare but should be taken into consideration in investigating cases of female patients with a history of vomiting, weight loss and anemia. Diagnostic workup should include upper digestive tract endoscopy, ultrasonography and abdominal tomography. Treatment is surgical in most cases. Complications resulting from perforation or bowel necrosis may occur but death is rare.