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A lithopedion (Ancient Greek: λίθος = stone; Ancient Greek: παιδός = child), or stone baby, is a rare phenomenon which occurs most commonly when a fetus dies during an abdominal 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 94-year old woman,[unreliable source?] whose lithopedion has been present for upwards of 60 years.
The condition was first described in a treatise by the physician Albucasis in the 10th century, but fewer than 300 cases have been noted in 400 years of medical literature. The earliest lithopedion is one found in an archaeological excavation, dated to 1100 BC.
According to one report there are only 300 reported cases of stone baby in the world. In February 2011, doctors in Andhra Pradesh, India removed a 35-year-old stone baby from a woman.
In popular culture 
In literature 
Alphabetical by author's last name
- A lithopedion figure is a central plot device in Samuel Hopkins Adams' 1944 novel, Canal Town.
- "Within the Walls of Tyre," a 1978 World Fantasy Award-nominated short story by Michael Bishop, is about a woman who secretly cherishes her decades-old lithopedion.
- In the American graphic novel series Love and Rockets by Gilbert Hernandez, a central character complains for decades about stomach cramps, which are eventually attributed to a lithopedion.
- Italian writer Giorgio Manganelli addresses his reader as a "conversevole litopedio" (conversational lithopedion) in his 1964 treatise Hilarotragoedia.
- In Will Self's 2000 novel How the Dead Live, the central character Lily Bloom is haunted by her singing lithopedion child after her death.
Onscreen, in television 
- In the Australian TV series All Saints, a person with a lithopedian baby figured in the episode that aired 10 June 2008 (episode 434).
- In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent season four episode "In the Dark", a woman in the early stages of dementia who believes her daughter is alive is suspected of having a lithopedion.
- In the Nip/Tuck season three episode "Joy Kringle", a lithopedion is discovered during a routine liposuction.
- Perper, J.A. (2006): Chapter III: Time of Death and Changes after Death. Part 1: Anatomical Considerations. In: Spitz, W.U. & Spitz, D.J. (eds): Spitz and Fisher’s Medicolegal Investigation of Death. Guideline for the Application of Pathology to Crime Investigations (Fourth edition), Charles C. Thomas, pp.: 87-127; Springfield, Illinois.
- "lithopedion at Everything2.com". Everything2.com. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- Rothschild, B.M.; Rothschild, C. & Bement, L.C. (1993): Three-millennium antiquity of the lithokelyphos variety of lithopedion. American journal of obstetrics and gynecology, 169: 140-141.
- "35 year old ‘stone baby’ removed from 70 year old woman’s womb". Siasat.com. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- TV.com Summary