In a rare surgery, a team of doctors from a city hospital removed the skeleton of an unborn baby from the womb of a 60-year-old woman after a span of 36 years, possibly the longest that the remains of an ectopic pregnancy were retained in a female body.
The woman, Kantabai Gunvant Thakre from Pipariya (Seoni) in Madhya Pradesh was operated upon recently by a team of doctors from Nagpur's N K P Salve Institute of Medical Sciences (NKPSIMS) and Lata Mangeshkar Hospital here after she came for an OPD last week.
Since last two months, Thakre had been complaining of consistent pain in her abdomen. On check-up, the doctors felt a lump on the lower right side of her abdomen, and feared it was cancer. The presence of a lump was confirmed by sonography. Further, a CT scan revealed that the lump was made of hard, calcified matter.
"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 the hospital, told PTI on Tuesday.
A team of surgeons searched for medical literature on similar cases and found a Belgian woman had retained the remains of an ectopic pregnancy for 18 years, the longest period they could find on record.
The woman who got pregnant in 1978 as a 24-year-old, had then suffered from a medical condition in which the baby was growing outside the uterus. However, the pregnancy got terminated mid-way.
"We asked for a detailed medical history and the patient's brother told us that in 1978 she was pregnant and had some complications," said Dr B S Gedam, who led the team of surgeons.
Earlier, doctors from a city-based hospital had told her that her foetus might have died at that time and she would have to undergo an operation now. We gathered that she got scared at the prospect of surgery and went away to her village (Pipariya) without undergoing the operation, Gedam said.
He said that the patient claimed that after a few months of treatment at a health centre in her village, she was relieved.
What the team found after operating Thakre was a mass containing a matured skeleton encapsulated in a calcified sac.
This mass was found between the uterus, the intestines and urinary bladder, densely stuck to all the organs.
"The amniotic fluid that protects the foetus 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," said Dr Akhtar.
He said this was happening as the mass was compressing the urinary system, thus compromising the functioning of the kidneys.
One of the ovaries of the patient was also missing.
The surgery was performed on August 14 and lasted for about four hours, Dr Gedam said adding the patient was recovering fast.