*Warning: Disturbing Images Ahead*
It’s a rare condition, but it has been reported throughout medical history. Lithopedion or “stone babies” are created when the fetus of a pregnant woman — usually a woman over the age of 40 — begins growing outside of the womb in the abdomen. The fetus passes away due to a lack of blood or food supply, and the body can’t naturally expel the fetus through the birth canal due to its abnormal positioning. To stave off infection from the decaying fetus, the body slowly calcifies it, removing the dead tissue and replacing it with hard cells. The fetus becomes hard like a stone and will continue to accrue layers of hard calcium over the months or years.
A woman in India claimed to be carrying a stone baby for over a decade, and she had no idea it was inside of her.
The first recorded case of lithopedion was sometime in the 900s in Spain. A woman became pregnant twice but never gave birth. Her stomach swelled up and developed a festering wound. The physician, Abulcasis, opened the wound and removed fetus skeletons out of it. The patient amazingly recovered from the surgery.
Throughout the ensuing centuries, approximately 300 women have reported issues that turned out to be lithopedia. The medical condition usually affects women in developing countries in South America, Asia, and Africa with less stringent pre-natal care. One in 11,000 pregnancies are abdominal pregnancies, and only 1.5 to 1.8% of abdominal pregnancies develop into stone babies. Women often carry the calcified fetuses for years or decades without knowing they’re there.
One of the most fascinating cases of lithopedion occurred in 2015. A 92-year-old Chilean woman was taken to the hospital for x-rays after falling down. They found something they wouldn’t have guessed was there: a 4.4 pound stone baby that she unknowingly carried for about 50 years. Though it was so large that it filled most of her abdominal cavity, they didn’t remove it fearing it was cause her to die prematurely.
A New Case
Yet another woman has come forward allegedly carrying a stone baby. The unnamed 52-year-old woman from a village near Nagpur, Maharashtra in India experienced constant nausea and vomiting for three years. She had been visiting doctors in previous years because of stomach pain, but her symptoms were becoming unbearable.
The medical staff at Junankar Surgical Nursing Home performed a CAT scan and noticed a mass obstructing her bowels. Dr. Nilesh Junakar stated, “Her scan showed intestinal obstruction, a blockage in her food pipe along with a stone like structure. Due to this unusual report, a laparoscopy was done and to our utter surprise, there was a four-month old baby in the abdomen. We were very shocked.”
(Warning: shocking image below)
Curing the Ailment
According to the unidentified woman, she aborted a fetus 15 years earlier because her family couldn’t manage another child. Her doctor performed the surgery and assured her that the fetus was gone. If this was the case, the fetus was left in her body where it wasn’t able to be expelled since it didn’t develop in her womb and calcified instead. Her reproductive organs functioned naturally, so she didn’t think her pain could be linked to the abortion.
Dr. Nilesh and his staff immediately operated on her to remove the stone baby. After a two-hour long operation on Nov. 23, the woman was free of the problematic obstruction. Dr. Nilesh explained:
“It was a shock for everyone present in the operating theatre. We have removed the stone baby from woman’s body and her four feet intestines have also been removed.”
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