Retained surgical instruments are any items inadvertently left in a patient’s body during the course of surgery.
image from www.medicalmistake.com
Retained surgical instruments
Each year, surgical instruments and supplies are left behind in patient’s bodies on the operating table, a staggering amount of 1500 people a year in the U.S. in 2003. It occurs between 1 in 100 people, to 1 in 5000 people. Mistakes happen in 12.5% of surgeries.
Some surgical items commonly “misplaced” so to speak are:
- knife blades
- safety pins
- electrosurgical adapters
- asepto bulbs
- suction tips and tubes
- mechanical lasers and guides
Common item found is a sponge
The most common item found is a sponge. This is called gossypiboma, which means a sponge or towel retained after surgery. It is commonly referred to as textilioma. Effects may be immediately, or it could take weeks, months or even years. Some of the ways gossypiboma can present itself is by a mass in the body or bowel tumour. It is difficult to diagnose, with no clear evidence by xray and can mask as an abscess.
Some ways of preventing gossypiboma that the medical community have put in place are:
- radiopaque marking – dying the sponges with a radiopaque marker, which will show up in an xray.
- ultrasonography and computerized tomography
Retained surgical tools can cause permanent damage or death. The types of injuries incurred from this are:
- permanent scarring
- bowel injuries
- deformation and disfigurement
- permanent disability
- loss of sensation
- brain damage