When you pay a visit to the hospital you assume that you’re in safe hands. Likewise, when you undergo surgery of any form it would be kind of comforting to know that your surgeon has at least a basic grasp of mathematics. You know, so he doesn’t ‘forget’ how many junior hacksaws he had on the operating table before surgery started. Repeat after me, “If I have two scalpels and I take away one scalpel, what do I have?” A real problem especially if you’ve just had any kind of internal surgical procedure.
Nightmare? Indeed, especially if you’ve already had some of these items left in your body…
Abdominal pain can be excruciating. If you’ve ever experienced colic then you already know what I’m talking about so it’s fair to say that any kind of agonising pain is something to be very concerned about. Unless you willingly frequent Lady Nipple Twister’s Boudoir of Agony, there’s a good chance you’re averse to pain – just like a Japanese man who checked into the hospital with severe stomach cramping. Surgeons being surgeons, finished their game of golf and swung into action. During the course of their investigation they discovered a huge tumour in the man’s abdomen. First thoughts: it’s either the remains of a foetal twin that was absorbed into the man’s body or it’s time to become very religious.
Fortunately, they wrong on both counts. It turned out to be a surgical towel that had been floating around inside the man for about 25 years. Ironically, all those years ago he’d gone in to have minor surgery on an ulcer. Rumours abound that, once thoroughly cleaned, the towel found a new home in the nurses accommodation.
You know how it is: you’ve got some DIY to do. Those new shelves have been gathering dust for about 6 months. The family photo’s are now several rows deep on the mantelpiece. Your other half constantly compares your feeble home engineering skills to the neighbour’s prodigious erections (because he built a children’s play area from scratch) whilst ignoring the fact that he’s actually a structural engineer. What’s your excuse? You’ve lost your screwdriver! The drill bits are blunt! You have a 10 inch retractor lodged in your abdomen. You eyesight is…whoa! Back up. When it comes to missing tools this one takes some beating.
A recent in-patient to a Pittsburgh hospital complained of searing pain in his abdomen. Doctors being doctors did the only sensible thing possible and told him to see a shrink! Eventually the alien object was found and removed but, when questioned, medics refused to verify the entry point the retractor originally took.
10 Inch Blade
Gun and knife crime are the scourge of many a modern city. You have two choices: re-enacting the gunfight at the OK corral or River Dance… with no dancing… but with lots of knives. It’s fair to say that most people who have been shot or stabbed and survived the ordeal will tell you it really, really hurts. So you’d probably know if a foreign body was stuck in your body. A foreign body like a 10 inch knife blade would almost certainly have alarm bells ringing. Unless you’re a doctor in Yunnan, China – because that’s a common occurrence – nothing to write home about!
37-year-old Li Fu had been complaining to his doctor about some pretty severe headaches. Before you read the next line, take note: he had been complaining.
This means he saw his doctor more than once. Amazingly, doctors failed to spot the 10 inch blade which had become embedded in Fu’s head following a botched armed robbery. Just to rub salt into his wounds, one doctor laughed as he exclaimed, “The knife was almost intact when we removed it – a bet that won me 500 yuan”!
4 Inch Forceps
Like prostitution, cosmetic surgery is an industry that never goes out of fashion. In 2009/2010, at the height of the global recession, the number of elective cosmetic procedures remained stable. This can mean one of two things: some people were happily offloading massive credit card bills against their children’s future or mankind had turned to hunting down and eating anyone that looked a day over 40. Considering the average bill for ‘a little’ nip and tuck is in the region of about £35,000 you’d think that the surgical procedure will be pain free and faultless, right? Hahaha! You fool!
Following a successful tummy tuck, a French woman started to experience severe pain. Not the old, ‘stabbed in the foot with a biro’ pain but some real, ‘oh my God, my bowels are forcing their way out through my belly button’ pain. Once they finished their cigarettes and wine, French surgeons swung into action and removed a pair of 4in-long forceps from the stomach of the woman (which were already on a losing streak in the hide and seek stakes as part of the metal forceps could been seen protruding through her skin).
Over the years, there have been many excuses for finding objects that have, ‘accidentally bored their way into a person’s rectum’. Exclamations such as, “I fell onto the deodorant can!” or “How the hell did that snake get in there?” don’t fool anyone. Especially not steely-eyed surgeons. You see, they’ve seen it all. In fact, in many cases it was all their fault. I can understand some people wanting to test the elasticity of their body parts. I can understand medical professional making mistakes. But when a patient complains about a persistent change to their bowel habit then it’s time to sit up and listen.
In this case, the patient had undergone surgery to correct a prolapsed womb but a swab was left inside her body and not discovered until she underwent an MRI scan at a later date. At this point, the swab was found to be boring its way into her rectum. Leaving surgical swabs in a patients body is a common occurrence. In fact, it’s so common that the ‘Oops, I did it again’ moment now has an official name: gossypiboma.
Vomiting is something we humans do at the drop of a hat. Last night’s curry, a skinful of alcohol, ingesting surgical sponges – they’re all precursors to some serious puking action. Ordinarily, there’s nothing to worry about but when you start experiencing severe abdominal pain just before you blow chunks then it’s time to grab your physician by the throat and really emphasise the point that you, “ARE ON THE VERGE OF DEATH!”. Just like Sophia Savage from Kentucky, USA.
Back in 2005, whilst on a night shift as a nurse, Sophia was bowled over by an sharp, stabbing feeling in her stomach. Not content to pass it off as a bad case of Montezuma’s Revenge, she underwent a CT scan the following day. Doctors found a surgical sponge lodged inside her. What’s more amazing is that it had been there since 2001 following a hysterectomy.
My mother always warned me not to play with sharp stuff as it would hard to explain why my fingerprints were all over the knife in my dad’s back! I can still see her now – through her cell window and I can tell you now that getting a stripy suntan is pure fallacy. Over the years, scalpels have provided hours of entertainment for horror and football fans alike.
Considering how lethal they can be in the wrong hands it’s surprising that a surgeon could misplace one. Sure, they’re small but given the potential bio-hazard or just plain mischief you can have with one you’d think doctors would be careful not to leave one inside a patient. Like they did to 76 year old Victor Hutchinson when underwent surgery at Derriford hospital in Plymouth, Devon.
A heart bypass is a serious operation rather than a procedure seal clubbing fishermen go through just before the new hunting season. Given this is a very delicate affair that can seal (sorry!) the fate of the patient you’d think that surgical teams would be ultra-observant, right? Wrong. Habits are hard to break and when it comes to closing up your body like the zipper on a sports bag, things can get trapped or just plain lost. A bit like those running socks that seem to disappear into a vortex leaving you looking like a half dressed drunk on a Friday night.
Richard Kellar from Denver underwent successful triple heart bypass surgery. When I say successful I mean he was still alive at the end of the op. But, the grand tradition of the Borg, he left the theatre with a mechanical enhancement – a surgical clamp about the size of a jumbo paper clip. The clamp was later removed and is now used to bind his tax returns.