Last revised by Daniel J Bell on 17 Jun 2021

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

The estimated incidence is at ~1.5 to 1.8% of abdominal ectopic pregnancies 4.

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.

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

Diagnosis is usually straightforward, but differential hypotheses might include:

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