Ever heard of a "mummified" fetus or a "calcified" fetus? That's what an 82-year-old Colombian woman learned she had inside her body when she went to a hospital in Bogota complaining of stomach pains. When doctors took an X-ray, they discovered a 40-year-old calcified fetus -- or lithopedion -- inside her elderly body, Huffington Post reported Dec. 12.
Lithopedion is an exceptionally rare syndrome that is also referred to as "stone baby." It only affects one in every 11,000 pregnancies.
In 2009 Dr. Natalie Burger described lithopedion after a 92-year-old woman in southern China delivered a baby she had inside her for over 50 years. Dr. Burger said the mummified baby begins as an ectopic pregnancy and somehow the egg travels outside of the uterus and grows there.
Dr. Burger said:
“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.”
The fetus may grow so large, it cannot be absorbed back into the woman's body, so it mummifies with a layer of calcium to prevent dead tissue from the baby harming the body. In these types of rare instances, the woman has no idea she's carrying a calcified fetus.
According to the report, the Colombian woman have surgery to remove the mummified fetus.
It's hard to imagine a 40-year-old fetus still inside a body undetected. It goes to show how miraculous the human body is at functioning with rare conditions such as this.