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“Litho-“, the  Greek prefix meaning stone, and “-pedion”, the Greek suffix meaning “child,” creates a literal translation of lithopedion as “stone child” (The American Illustrated Medical Dictionary).  Lithopedion is the condition where a dead fetus becomes mummified and calcified as a result of an ectopic pregnancy.   During this form of pregnancy,  a fertilized egg is  implanted outside of the uterus and therefore develops within the abdominal cavity (Hacker, Gambone, and Hobel 2010). In developed countries, ectopic pregnancies are usually discovered long before the process of lithopedion formation occurs; therefore, the condition of lithopedion is quite rare.

After fertilization the egg becomes a blastocyst. The outer cell layer of the blastocyst is called the trophoblast, the portion that attaches to a vascular organ. The blood supply to the fetus eventually becomes inadequate and the fetus dies. At this stage lithopedion formation begins – the dead fetus will mummify, shrink, and calcify (Padubidri, 2005). There are three forms of Lithopedion,each depending on the process of calcification: (1) lithocelyphos, (2) lithocelphopedion, and (3) lithopedion. Lithocelyphos is when the fetus is mummified and the extra-embryonic membranes are calcified. Lithocelphopedion is when the fetus is attached to certain points of the extra-embryonic membranes and these points are subject to calcify, while everything else is mummified. Lithopedion, in the narrower sense, is when the extra-embryonic membranes rupture releasing the fetus into the abdominal cavity where it is calcified by lime salts (Ziegler, 1895).


2 responses »

  1. Dorothy Trainor Damm

    My mom gave birth to a stone baby back in the 1940’s. She had been to several doctors who said she was pregnant, then she wasn’t. They went to Ottawa area to visit her mother and on the day she was told in the beginning was her due date she gave birth to the stone fetus. The old doctor came by horse and buggy and had nothing to help her with. She lost a lot of blood, he suggested drinking port wine to build up her blood. When we returned to Detroit she went to the family doctor and he said it was a freak of nature. The only problem my mom ever had was a sustained stomach. She lived till she was 87 but the last 8 years she had many broken bones in her back. She never drank milk so we were never sure if that was the problem or if the stone baby had caused the problem.

  2. Do you know what a stonechild means in the


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