Surgery can be a scary but life-saving experience. Surgeons use a wide range of instruments and equipment to perform delicate procedures; modern surgery is a relatively safe and clean process thanks to these tools.
But what happens if your surgeon accidentally leaves something inside you while sewing you back up? How can you tell there’s something inside you short of undergoing an X-ray scan?
How often do surgeons leave medical instruments inside their patients?
According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) report, out of the 28 million surgical procedures performed annually in America, about 1,500 incidents end with surgeons accidentally leaving something inside their patients.
What are the most common foreign elements left behind after surgery?
The most common medical instruments and tools that get accidentally left inside patients include:
- Surgical sponges
- Drill bit fragments
How likely will I find a medical instrument inside me?
The NCBI noted that the risk of having a foreign body retained in a patient considerably increases during emergency procedures or if there’s an unplanned change during the operation. Patients with a higher body-mass index are also at higher risk of having something left inside them.
What are the risks of leaving a foreign body inside you?
Research conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine found that among patients with retained foreign bodies, the objects caused small-bowel fistulae (an abnormal connection between two or more body parts), obstruction within the body or puncture wounds. In one case, the foreign object even resulted in the patient’s death.
Foreign objects inside your body are a significant risk to your health. Don’t hesitate to ask for help if you feel something isn’t right with your body immediately after surgery.