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Doctors remove skeleton of baby left inside mother for 38 years

In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo sac (in yellow) develops outside the uterus (pink).
In an ectopic pregnancy, the embryo sac (in yellow) develops outside the uterus (pink).
Maria Khan

An Indian woman has reportedly had the world's longest ectopic pregnancy, after doctors removed the skeleton of a baby that had been inside her abdomen for nearly four decades.

Jyoti Kumar, from Madhya Pradesh in central India, fell pregnant in 1978 at the age of 24.

She was told that the baby was growing outside of her womb and stood little chance of survival, but fled the hospital in fear at the prospect of surgery, instead seeking treatment for the pain at a small clinic.

When the discomfort subsided, Kumar assumed that the issue had been treated, but more than 30 years later she began experiencing severe abdominal pain, urinary problems, and fever.

She visited doctors at the NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences, in the central Indian city of Nagpur, where it was revealed that the now 62-year-old was still carrying her unborn child.

Dr. Mohammed Yunus Shah, one of the team of surgeons who operated on Kumar, explained: "She said the pain had been consistent over the last two months and we found a lump on the lower right side of her abdomen, and feared it was cancer. A CT scan then revealed that the lump was made of hard, calcified matter.

"But it was only after the patient underwent an MRI, that we could make out that the mass was in fact a child's skeleton."

Dr. Shah's team removed a mass in a calcified sac containing a matured skeleton between Kumar's uterus, intestines and bladder.

"The amniotic fluid that protects the foetus might have been absorbed and the soft tissues liquefied over time with only a bag of bones with some fluid remaining," said Dr. Shah.

He said his team searched for medical literature on similar cases and found mention of a Belgian woman who had the remains of an ectopic pregnancy removed after 18 years.

"We believe this could be the longest case on record at 38 years," Dr. Shah added.

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