Those who are afraid of anything surgical, red, bloody and squishy should probably steer clear of this news. Doctors left surgical sponges in woman’s body for at least six years. The unidentified 41-year-old woman went to a clinic in Japan to report that she had experienced bloating for over three years. A CT scan revealed two weird masses in her abdomen — which doctors later confirmed were surgical sponges. It was later concluded that they were left in the after a C-section. After the sponges were removed, the patient’s symptoms cleared and she was discharged five days later.
The woman had received two C-section six and nine years ago, so it’s unclear which one resulted in the leftover sponges. Many Japanese hospitals image a patient’s body before closing a wound to make sure nothing is left inside. The U.S. sees 4,500 to 6,000 such incidents a year, and approximately 70% of the items are sponges. These “retained surgical items” can cause discomfort, bloating, pain and even death.
Some hospitals have switched to a new system, where each item has a unique barcode, so it can be easily tracked post-operation. Hopefully, systems like these will help prevent more stuff from surgically ending up in people’s stomachs.