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Prenat Diagn. 1997 Jan;17(1):13-21.

Prenatal diagnosis, pathology, and genetic study of fetus in fetu.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


We report the prenatal diagnosis, pathology, cytogenetics, and molecular studies of a retroperitoneal fetus in fetu. Prenatal ultrasonography of the host fetus in the third trimester showed an anencephalic, acardiac mass with identifiable extremities and spine within an intra-abdominal cystic mass. Pathological examination revealed a fetiform mass weighing 20 g with four extremities, digits, vertebral bodies, an oral cavity with developing teeth, primitive male external genitalia, a urinary bladder, a cloaca with an external opening, large intestines, a membranous capsule, and an umbilical cord with one artery, one vein, and Wharton's jelly. Histological examination demonstrated nerve bundles in the fibrocollagenous tissue below the cuboidal surface epithelium of the membranous capsule, and absence of lamina elastica interna and vasa vasorum in the single artery of the umbilical cord. Both the host infant and the fetus in fetu had a normal 46,XY karyotype. Molecular analysis using informative genetic markers showed no genetic difference between the host infant and the fetiform mass. We report this case as an unusual example of fetus in fetu in co-existence with an amnion-like membrane containing nerve bundles and with a well-formed umbilical cord. We demonstrate that fetus in fetu can be diagnosed prenatally if the fetiform mass has well-developed limbs and spine. We emphasize the necessity for suspicion of fetus in fetu when a well-defined encapsulated cystic mass with calcified solid components is detected prenatally in a fetus by ultrasonography.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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