Doctors found an 80-year-old woman in Russia has lived her entire life with an inch-long needle in her brain.
A local radiologist discovered a three-centimeter needle inside the octogenarian’s brain during an X-ray scan, said the Ministry of Health in Sakhalin in a Telegram post on Wednesday.
The tiny needle was located in the parietal lobe of the unnamed woman’s brain, according to the ministry. While it did not disclose the exact date of discovery, it said the needle was found this year.
The needle was lodged inside her brain since she was born. Doctors believe she had survived a failed infanticide attempt by her parents.
In the Soviet era during the famine of the 1930s, desperate parents struggling with poverty would insert a needle into the soft spot of a baby’s head – the fontanelle – where the skull hadn’t entirely developed.
It would then close, obscuring the needle, but the newborn would eventually die.
“Such incidents were not uncommon during the years of starvation: a thin needle would be inserted into a newborn’s fontanel to damage the brain,” the local health department of the remote Russian region wrote on its Telegram channel.
“The fontanelle quickly closed up, covering up evidence of the crime, and the baby died.”
Such an attempt, believed to have been carried out on the woman who was likely born around 1943, did not lead to the intended effect.
The woman had, however, occasionally complained of headaches.
While doctors have decided against surgery to pull the needle, fearing it could harm the patient, “her condition is being monitored by primary care physicians”, said the ministry’s statement, adding that she was not at risk.
Sakhalin is an island of 50,000 people located 6.5km off the southeastern coast in Russia and 40km of north Japan’s Hokkaido.
Its control was split between the former Soviet Union and the then Japanese Empire in 1905, following a war between the two sides.
The Soviet Union had seized the Japanese portion of the island in the final days of the Second World War in 1945.