Indian teen’s stomach ache turns out to be bones, hair and fat from her own malformed twin, case report reveals

  • A 17-year-old girl from India had a strange mass growing on her abdomen for years 
  • Periodically, it would hurt or make her feel full, according to a BMJ report
  • A CT scan revealed what looked like bones, fat and soft tissue 
  • Doctors surgically removed a teratoma that also contained hair, teeth and ‘limb buds’ from a malformed twin that had been absorbed in the womb 
  • At 17, the girl is the oldest woman seen with this rare condition that affects one in 500,000 live births 

A 17-year-old woman in India couldn’t shake her stomach ache, and noticed a mass growing in her abdomin. 

At last, she went to the doctor, where she discovered her problem wasn’t digestive at all. 

She’d been carrying her own malformed twin in her belly for her entire life. 

Doctors believe the unidentified young woman is the first to carry a partially-developed twin in her own body into adulthood, according to a recent British Medical Journal article. 

A CT scan shows bones (white) and other tissues growing in the mass in a 17-year-old's abdomen. She was carrying her malformed twin, a case report says

A CT scan shows bones (white) and other tissues growing in the mass in a 17-year-old’s abdomen. She was carrying her malformed twin, a case report says 

For five years, the mysterious mass grew at an odd angle in the young woman’s stomach. 

Sometimes it hurt, and other times it made her feel like she was full when she’d hardly eaten. 

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When doctors examined her abdomen, the felt a lumpy mass that was fairly hard, but not consistently so. 

It appeared to be a tumor – but a large and strange one.  

Scans revealed a clear outline for the mass, but inside it was a whole assortment of parts and tissues. 

Some areas looked like fat, others showed up like soft tissues of organs might. 

And then there were the hard, calcium-looking portions of the tumor, which show up stark white on a CT scan.

Upon closer inspection, the calcium portions of the scan were more than deposits, they looked like bones – specifically, vertebrae, ribs and ‘long bones,’ according to the case report. 

The mass was surgically removed two years ago.  

It did indeed contain the bones the doctors thought they’d seen on the CT, which were described as ‘mature.’ 

But it was also composed of hair, several teeth and ‘structures resembling limb buds.’ 

The mass is known as a teratoma, a form of benign tumor that develops into several types of tissues, like those that develop in stages of a baby’s development, but are not a baby. 

Often they form in an ovary, testicle or tailbone. 

The teenager girl’s teratoma was particularly unique for several reasons. 


For five years, the teratoma grew into a misshapen mass in the young woman's abdomen

For five years, the teratoma grew into a misshapen mass in the young woman’s abdomen

Her tumor was likely a malformed twin that had started to develop alongside her in the womb – but was absorbed into her own body when it failed to develop any further. 

The phenomenon, called fetus in fetu, occurs in only one out of every 500,000 live births worldlier. 

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What’s more, it’s usually seen in males, and rarely beyond childhood. 

In fact, the doctors from All India Institute of Medical Sciences wrote that they believe she is the oldest woman to have been identified as still carrying the vestiges of a twin in this way. 

‘I was much worried about my abdominal lump, after [the] operation I am feeling very well and my abdomen is now flat and my parents are also very happy,’ said the young woman in the case report, written two years after her harrowing ordeal. 

She has been doing well since the surgery, is healthy and, as she herself said, happy.    



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