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40-year-old fetus found inside elderly woman

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An elderly woman from Columbia went to the hospital because of abdominal pain. Perhaps thinking she had appendicitis or a gastrointestinal bug, the woman never expected her test results to come back as they did. Turns out, the 82-year-old woman had a 40-year-old fetus inside of her.

Lithopaedion or "stone baby" is the term used to describe such a case. A "stone baby" occurs when the fetus dies during an ectopic pregnancy. Usually, the body absorbs the fetus but in rare instances, the mother's body will cover the dead fetus in layers of calcium, protecting her from it. The human body usually cannot detect this and can go for many, many years without showing any abnormal symptoms.

An abdominal x-ray revealed the fetus. The elderly woman was taken to another hospital to have the dead fetus removed from her body. There have only been about 300 cases of Lithopaedion ever recorded in medical history. The woman is expected to be okay.

© Effie Orfanides 2013


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