The calcified foetus known as a ‘stone baby’ was discovered in an elderly woman in Colombia.
An X-ray of the 40-year-old foetus
A 40-year-old foetus has been found inside the body of an 82-year-old woman in Bogota, Colombia.
The elderly woman went to hospital after suffering from stomach pains thought to be gastroenteritis.
However, it was not until doctors saw an X-ray that they discovered the stone baby.
Stone babies or ‘lithopaedion’ are rare and occur when a foetus dies during pregnancy and is too big to be reabsorbed back into the body.
In order to protect the mother’s body, the exterior of the foetus calcifies, hence the term ‘stone baby’.
It is not unusual for a stone baby to go undiagnosed for decades and are only discovered when the patient is examined.
One in 11,000 pregnancies develop into a lithopaedion, with many women remaining unaware of it because their bodies are shielded from the dead tissue, which has been calcified on the outside.
Dr Natalie Burger, an endocrinologist and fertility specialist in Texas explains that lithopaedions began as ectopic pregnancies – a condition where the fertilised egg becomes stuck on it’s way to the womb and develops outside of the uterus.
“Usually an ectopic pregnancy will mean a [fallopian] tubal pregnancy, but in a small percentage of cases, the pregnancy can actually occur in the abdominal cavity — in places like the bowel, the ovary, or even on the aorta. These are very rare locations and they can be very dangerous.”
According to the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, the earliest known case of lithopaedion was discovered in 1582, during the autopsy of a 68-year-old woman.
The Colombian patient has since been transferred to another hospital to undergo surgery to remove the foetus.