Lithopedion (litho = stone; pedion = child) results when a fetusdies during an ectopicpregnancy, is too large to be reabsorbed by the body, and calcifies. It is a rare phenomenon that mostly comes from an abdominal pregnancy. It is not unusual for a stone baby to remain undiagnosed for decades, and it is often not until a patientis examined for other conditions or a proper examination is conducted that includes an X-raythat a stone baby is found. The oldest reported case is that of a 94 year old woman, whose lithopedion had probably been present for over 60 years.
Stone babies are rare, occurring in only 0.0045 percent (1 in 22,000) of pregnancies. Fewer than 300 cases have been noted in medical literature accumulated over some 400 years. Lithopedion may occur from 14 weeks' gestation to full term.
The earliest stone baby is one found in an archaeological excavation, dated to 1100 BC. The condition was first described in a treatise by the great physician Albucasisin the 10th centuryAD.
A related condition is known as vanishing twin, in which the fetus is one of two or more sharing the womb. If the fetus is older than eight weeks at the time of its death, and is retained in the uterusfor at least ten weeks, it may undergo mechanical compressionsuch that it takes on a flattened, mummified appearance and resembles parchmentpaper.
References in popular culture
- A lithopedion figures as a central plot device in Samuel Hopkins Adams' 1944novel, Canal Town.
- In the Nip/Tuck season three episode "Joy Kringle", a lithopedion is discovered during a routine liposuction.
- In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "In the Dark", a woman in the early stages of dementiais discovered to have a lithopedion .
- OBGYN.Net, including images
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article Lithopedion.