Monday, April 21, 2008

Medical Marvel: Lithopedion

Image courtesty of Radiology Picture of the Day

If it's Monday, it's Medical Marvel time. Well, as long as I keep finding interesting stuff, I guess. Today, we investigate lithopedions. According to Wikipedia, a lithopedion is:
A Lithopedion (Greek:litho = stone; pedion = child), or stone baby, is a rare phenomenon which occurs most commonly when a fetus dies during an ectopic pregnancy, is too large to be reabsorbed by the body, and calcifies on the outside, shielding the mother's body from the dead tissue of the baby and preventing infection. Lithopedia may occur from 14 weeks' gestation to full term. It is not unusual for a stone baby to remain undiagnosed for decades, and it is often not until a patient is examined for other conditions or a proper examination is conducted that includes an X-ray that a stone baby is found. The oldest reported case is that of a 76 year old woman, whose lithopedion had probably been present for 46 years.
There is one case report discussed on Radiology Picture of the Day. What surprises me about all this is that I always thought ectopic pregnancies had a high mortality rate. However, this condition, especially given the size of the lithopedion, makes me wonder about that. I should note, I have not taken my ob/gyn rotation yet, so maybe I am mistaken about the nature of ectopic pregnancies. At any rate, can you imagine living with a lithopedion inside of you for potentially several decades? Strange, no?

Looking for more marvels? Check out craniofacial duplication, or fetus in fetu.

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