It was 1978 when a 24-year-old Indian woman found out she was pregnant. It would be more than three decades later though before the remains of the baby that was growing inside of her were removed.
The Times of India reported that the now 60-year-old woman recently had the calcified mass of a fetus removed, making it one of the longest ectopic pregnancies to have remained in a woman’s body.
The woman went to the hospital complaining about having experienced months of abdominal pain, according to the newspaper. Doctors felt a lump and conducted further analysis.
“It was after the patient underwent a MRI that the doctors could make out that the mass was in fact a child’s skeleton,” Dr. Murtaza Akhtar, head of surgery at Nagpur’s NKP Salve Institute of Medical Sciences, told the Times of India this week of the rare case.
A later review of published medical literature found that a Belgian woman who retained an ectopic pregnancy for 18 years was, at the time, the longest reported case.
The 36-year-old fetal skeleton that was removed from the 60-year-old patient was found in a calcified sac, according to the Times of India, located between the woman’s uterus, intestines and bladder.
“The amniotic fluid that protects the [fetus] might have been absorbed and the soft tissues liquefied over time with only a bag of bones with some fluid remaining. For the last few months, the patient was experiencing pain and urinary problems with fever,” Dr. Mohammad Yunus Shah, who was part of the surgical team, told the newspaper.
When asking about the woman’s medical history, the team learned from her brother that she had “some complications” with her pregnancy decades ago. The surgeons believe that when the woman was told at the time she would have to have an operation to remove the fetus, she was frightened and refused, saying she was treated at her home village, the Times of India reported.
According to the National Institutes of Health, in some cases when they are not caught ectopic pregnancies can result in the mother’s death.
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