An elderly woman in Russia's Far East was revealed on Wednesday to have lived for 80 years with an inch-long needle in her brain, after doctors made the unexpected discovery during a CT scan.

​Doctors believe the woman was the victim of a failed infanticide carried out by her parents, and said they would not attempt to remove the needle for fear of worsening her condition.

​"Such cases during years of famine were not uncommon," the local health department in the remote Russian region of Sakhalin said.

​It said her parents likely decided to put their child to death during World War II, as she had been living with the three-centimetre-long needle "since birth".

​This method was often used to hide evidence of the crime, it said.

​Food shortages were prevalent across the Soviet Union during the war, and many people lived in dire poverty.

​"The needle penetrated her left parietal lobe, but it did not have the intended effect – the girl survived," the local health department said.

​It said the patient had never complained of headaches due to the injury, and was not in any danger.

​"Her condition is being monitored by the attending physician," it said.

© Agence France-Presse