Having an instrument left in the body after surgery can create significant physical complications, even death. The body will almost certainly have an adverse reaction to the object’s presence. Here are some common injuries caused by surgical instruments left in the body.

Common Injuries from Surgical Instruments Left in the Body

Injuries that may occur from surgical instruments left in the body may include:

  • Pain

A foreign object is something that the body isn’t expecting. It is something that isn’t supposed to be there. The body may react with significant pain. The pain may continue over an extended period of time. It is a signal that something is wrong. The victim may be left to wonder about the cause. Discomfort may be mild, moderate, or severe.

  • Slow Healing

When an instrument is left in the body after surgery, the victim may not recover normally. They may wonder why they aren’t getting better. The victim may attribute the difficulty to a normal reaction or common complications after surgery. However, the surgical instrument may be the true cause of the patient failing to heal after surgery.

  • Internal Organ Puncture

A foreign object left in the body may perforate and puncture organs. The exact complications depend on which organ is punctured.

For example, a puncture to the esophagus may cause a feeling that something is stuck in the throat (Merck Manual). The person may have difficulty swallowing. A perforation to the stomach or intestines may cause cramps, bloody stool, and even leaking of fluids.

Complications may be physically painful and life-threatening. Internal punctures may result in multiple organ dysfunction and severe medical complications (National Institutes for Health).

  • Infection

As the body fights the foreign object in the body, there may be a number of inflammatory reactions. Blood and bodily fluids come into contact with the foreign object. The body may produce acute and chronic inflammation. The body may respond with fibrous capsule formation. The reaction is to fight the presence of the foreign body.

  • Peritonitis

Redness and swelling in the form of peritonitis is another inflammatory reaction that may result from surgical instruments left in the body. The victim may experience pain and swelling. They may have trouble breathing, nausea, and vomiting.

It is easy to confuse a peritonitis reaction from a surgical instrument left in the body with several other causes, so health care providers should be careful to recognize and consider the possibility of a surgical object left in the body as a cause (Johns Hopkins Medicine).

  • Adherence to Organs

It’s possible for a surgical instrument left in the body to adhere to an organ. The object can attach to tissues within the body. For example, CNN reported that a woman had two sponges left in her body for years following surgery. By the time they were identified, they had attached to a fold of tissue connecting the stomach with other parts of the abdomen. Removing a surgical instrument left in the body that has attached to an organ can be particularly complex. However, it can be necessary to resolve symptoms.

  • Bleeding

A foreign object left in the body may cause abnormal bleeding. The bleeding may be internal or external. Even small tears can cause significant bleeding. Health care practitioners should be prepared to consider a surgical instrument left in the body as a cause of upper gastrointestinal bleeding or bleeding from perforation of other organs.

  • Bowel Obstruction

A surgical instrument left in the body can migrate. Even if it is not left in the bowels, it may migrate there. In fact, the victim may even identify the foreign object left in the body when portions of it are excreted (Taylor, Foreign Bodies and Bowel Obstructions). When a surgical instrument causes a bowel obstruction, it may cause cramps, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

  • Pressing on a nerve

Neuropathic pain because of a foreign body is called foreign body neuralgia (Hindawi). When the foreign object presses on a nerve, pain may result. A surgical instrument can damage a nerve and exert pressure, causing pain (National Institutes of Health).

  • Death

A surgical instrument left in the body can be fatal. According to Daily Mail, one patient died after a forgotten sponge caused an infection. The victim had a heart attack and died only 10 days after the initial operation.

Injuries from a surgical instrument left in the body may vary from person to person. A health care provider should take a medical health inventory and ask about prior surgeries. If a person shows symptoms, the health care provider should investigate foreign objects left in the body as a possible cause.

What is a foreign object left in the body?

A foreign object left in the body is an object that doesn’t belong there. It can enter the body intentionally or unintentionally. It may be left there after surgery. A surgical instrument is an example of a foreign object left in the body.

What factors contribute to the body’s reactions from a surgical instrument left in the body?

Of course, the way a body reacts to a surgical instrument left in the body varies based on several factors. Some considerations that may impact the way a person reacts include:

  • The biocompatibility of the foreign object with the body
  • Location of the object
  • Movement of the object throughout the body
  • The health of the patient/patient anatomy
  • Whether MRI procedures with magnetics cause migration or heating

Lawyers for surgical instruments left in the body

If you have suffered from a surgical instrument left in the body, you may deserve financial compensation. Having a surgical instrument left in the body is almost certain to cause significant medical complications and mental health suffering. When you work with a medical malpractice lawyer for surgical instruments left in the body, they can help you claim the financial compensation that you deserve.

When you work with our lawyers, we fight for you like family. Contact us today to talk about your case.