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40-year-old Stone Fetus Removed from Woman's Abdomen

Dec 13, 2013 11:19 AM EST

A petrified fetus uncovered in an 84-year-old woman's stomach has been there for some 40 years, according to the doctors who discovered it.

The fetus was uncovered after the woman was admitted to the hospital in Colombia for pain in her stomach. Initially believed to be a case of gastroenteritis, an X-ray revealed an 18 inch fetus, estimated to weigh some 4 pounds, that had formed outside the uterus in the woman's abdomen.

"An ultrasound was done and it wasn't positive," Dr. Kemer Ramierz said, according to NTD TV. "Then, an abdominal radiography was ordered which located a tumor in the abdominal cavity which concluded that it was a fetus in the woman's abdomen."

According to researchers, an abdominal pregnancy occurs once out of every 11,000 pregnancies. Of this number, just 1.5 percent go on to calcify on the outside in order to defend the mother against infection. Called lithopedion, the condition occurs when the baby is too large for the mother's body to reabsorb.

The last lithopedion case was reported four years ago when, a 92-year-old woman from southern China delivered a 60-year-old stone baby.

Dr. Natalie Burger, an endocrinologist and fertility specialist at Texas Fertility Center, said the body does not recognize the fetus as a foreign object and does not result in any complications. 

"In some cases, there would be symptoms of an early pregnancy and then they would go away," Burger told NBC News. "The women would just think they just lost a pregnancy and wouldn't think any more of it."

Although doctors reassured the family of the Colombian woman that removing the fetus would be risky given the woman's age, Express reports that the woman was transferred to a second hospital where she will undergo the operation.

To see pictures of the X-ray, click here

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