In a bizarre, one-of-a-kind medical case, doctors from a  hospital in Ahmedabad performed a rare surgery to remove a foetus from the body of a 20-day-old baby boy. According to a report published in The Times of India, the child belonging to a couple from Sanand in Ahmedabad and was admitted , after the parents discovered a swelling in its stomach. It was later revealed to the shocked family that the infant was suffering from a rare condition called retroperitoneal mature teratoma or fetus in fetu.

Dr Bhavin Vasavada, the gastrointestinal hepatobiliary and liver transplant surgeon who conducted the surgery told TOI that it was a CT scan that revealed the presence of a mass, ostensibly a foetus, inside the baby. The mass removed from the abdomen of the infant was indeed a mature teratoma (fetus-in-fetu), which had an undeveloped hand and some parts of a spine. The operation was a success and the child is said to be recuperating well.

What’s Fetus in Fetu?

The term fetus in fetu literally means a ‘foetus inside a foetus.’ It’s a rare medical condition in which a foetus gets prematurely enveloped and enclosed inside the body of its twin. So far, they haven’t been many recorded cases of fetus and fetu. Here are some shocking facts about this developmental disorder.

It’s not pregnancy: Fetus-in-fetu is not a result of sexual activity and is not akin to being pregnant. It is a developmental anomaly caused when the child is still inside its mother’s womb. The embryo of the child encases and envelops that of its twin, restricting its growth.

It’s very rare: It’s a rare medical condition and fewer than 200 cases have been reported so far.

It usually occurs inside the abdomen: The usual site for fetus-in-fetu is the abdominal cavity area or the retropetitoneal space.

It can present some symptoms: Symptoms of fetus in fetu include abdominal swelling, jaundice, pressure on the kidneys, breathlessness and vomiting.

It can steal the embryo’s blood supply: It could be a parasitic twin, growing within its host twin, feeding off its blood supply.

It can have some developed organs: Commonly, fetus in fetu are found with some parts of its vertebrae or spine. But in some cases, skin structures, gastrointestinal tract and central nervous system can develop on the foetus. Rarely, gonads, adrenal glands, heart, pancreas, spleen and a basic respiratory system can be seen on the foetus.

It can sometimes have hair: A 45-year-old woman had a fright of her life when the cyst removed from her ovaries was shown to have a face and long hair like hers. It turned out that the mass growing inside her ovary was no cyst but an “unborn” twin.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Mar 12, 2018 04:27 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website