A mother has died of severe malnutrition as she carried a fetus lodged in her abdomen for nine years, a rare phenomenon called a lithopedion.
- A 50-year-old woman died of severe malnutrition because she had been carrying a 9-year-old calcified fetus in her womb.
- This is a lithopedion, an ectopic pregnancy where the fetus dies.
- The lithopedion is a very rare phenomenon, which has only been identified 290 times in the scientific literature.
In New York, USA, a 50-year-old woman died of acute malnutrition. The reason is that she had been carrying a calcified fetus in her womb for nine years. This case was reported in the journal BMC Women’s Health.
Lithopedion: a calcified fetus from an ectopic pregnancy
This phenomenon is called lithopedion: an ectopic pregnancy, that is to say, which develops outside the uterus, often in the abdominal cavity. However, in this woman’s case, doctors were unable to determine where in the body the pregnancy had taken place. But, regardless of the area, when there is lithopedion, the fetus does not have the necessary blood supply to develop normally, so it dies and calcifies because it cannot be expelled.
The mother-of-eight, from Congo, consulted doctors in New York because she was suffering from stomach cramps, indigestion and gurgling after meals. Analyzes revealed the presence of a calcified fetus. It would have died after 28 weeks, while the mother carried it for nine years.
The woman believed she was hit by a spell
Doctors offered the patient treatment and surgery, but she reportedly refused because she believed her condition was linked to a spell someone had cast on her in Africa. “She died of severe malnutrition against the background of recurrent bowel obstruction due to lithopedion”, explains Dr. Waseem Sous, who followed the patient, questioned by the DailyMail.
To fully understand this case, we must go back to the beginning of this woman’s pregnancy. At the time, she had already had eight children. During her ninth pregnancy, she was in Tanzania. When she no longer felt her baby move, she went to see local doctors.
They told her they weren’t detecting the baby’s heartbeat and that she should try to see if the fetus, which was obviously dead, was departing naturally from her body. After two weeks, as nothing had happened, she went back to consult. But new medical professionals accused her of wanting to kill her baby. So she gave up treatment, which led to this situation.
Lithopedion is a rare phenomenon, which has only been recorded 290 times in the scientific literature, including the first case in France in 1582. When a woman is carrying a calcified fetus, death can also be caused by a cardiac arrest or an infection caused by a weakened immune system.
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