lithopaedion

Lithopaedions, also referred as stone babies, are a rare phenomenon which occurs most commonly when a fetus dies during an ectopic pregnancy.

Epidemiology

The estimated incidence is at ~ 1.5 to 1.8% of abdominal ectopic pregnancies .

Pathology

If the deceased fetus is too large to be re-absorbed by the mother’s body it becomes a foreign body to the mother’s immune system. To protect itself from possible infection, the mother’s body will encase the fetus in a calciferous substance. The fetus is gradually mummified becoming a stone baby. Lithopedions may occur from 14 weeks’ gestation to full term. It is not unusual for a stone baby to remain undiagnosed for decades and found incidentally when taking plain films for various reasons.

History and etymology

Derives from the Ancient Greek roots, litho (λίθο) = stone and paedion (παιδίον) = child.

Differential diagnosis

Diagnosis is usually straightforward, but differential hypotheses might include: