A boy of two is in intensive care in Brazil after up to 50 sewing needles were pushed inside his body, apparently one by one.
Surgeons hope to remove most of the metal pins, some as long as 2in (5cm) but because some are stuck in the child's lungs they must wait until his breathing improves.
A few needles cannot be removed because they are too close to vital organs or actually inside them, said Dr Luiz Soltoski, at West Hospital in Barreiras, in the north-western state of Bahia.
Dr Soltoski said he believed the needles were stuck into the toddler's body one by one because it would have been impossible for him to swallow them.
"We think it could have only been by penetration because we found needles in the lung, the left leg and in different parts of the thorax. It couldn't have been by ingestion," said Dr Soltoski.
Doctors found no signs of external wounds, but X-rays clearly showed some of the needles inside his body.
The boy's mother, a maid, brought him to a hospital in the small northeastern city of Ibotirama last week, saying he was vomiting and complaining that he was in pain.
When X-rays revealed some of the needles, the child, who has not been identified because of his age, was transferred to the larger hospital in Barreiras.
The mother claimed she did not know how the needles got inside her son, but police have launched an investigation.
Dr Soltoski said the boy's condition had improved since he was admitted to an intensive care unit.Reuse content