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.The boy's motherclaimed she did not know how the needles got inside her son.
Brazilian media reported that a former stepfather of the toddler has been detained. He reportedly told police that he inserted the needles into the boy with the help of two women.
The police inspector in charge of the case told the Agencia Estado news agency that a black magic ritual involving the boy was a possible motive.
Dr Luiz Cesar Soltoski , who is treating the boy, said the child is in intensive care and that his condition has improved since he was admitted.
Surgeons hope to remove most of the needles, but some cannot be taken out as they are too close to his organs