Woman unknowingly carries calcified fetus for 60 years
Estela Melendez, a 92-year-old Chilean woman, received a shock when she went in for an ultrasound after a fall. Inside her was the 4.4-pound body of a fetus that had been conceived more than 50 years ago. This discovery finally explained to Melendez why she had never been able to conceive a child.
This is a rare condition called lithopedion where a fetus dies inside the womb and becomes calcified inside the body of the mother. It is so rare that there have only been 300 cases recorded in 400 years of medical history, giving the condition a likelihood of 1 in 11,000.
Because of her age, doctors sent her home without an operation. Hospital director Margo Vargas Lazo says the condition is "extraordinarily rare" and that "the fetus was large and developed and occupied all of her abdominal cavity."
Facts about lithopedion:
"Lithopedion" comes from the words "litho" for stone and "pedo" for baby, translating to "stone baby."
Lithopedion occurs after an ectopic pregnancy, where a fetus develops outside of the uterus. The calcification process prevents the mother from developing an infection.
The condition was first discovered in the 10th century by Albucasis, a physician. One of the earliest examples of a stone baby was found in Kerr Country, Texas, from 1100 BC.
Cover image: Flickr