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Am J Forensic Med Pathol. 2012 Mar;33(1):54-7. doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e31821c09fe.

A serious medicolegal problem after surgery: gossypiboma.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery, Medical Faculty, Dicle University, Diyarbakir, Turkey.


After surgery, the most common foreign bodies retained in the abdominal cavity are the surgical sponges. The aim of the present study was to emphasize the importance of gossypiboma, which is a serious and medicolegal problem. The records of 12 patients with a confirmed diagnosis of gossypiboma after abdominal surgery at Dicle University Hospital were retrospectively reviewed between January 1994 and December 2009. Eight of the 12 patients were females, and 4 were males. Previously, 7 patients had been operated on electively, and 5 had undergone operations on an emergency basis. Abdominal ultrasonography clearly demonstrated gossypibomas in 5 patients, and computed tomography demonstrated a more precise image of retained surgical sponges in 3 patients. One patient died because of ventricular fibrillation; the other 11 patients were discharged in good health. To eliminate the risk of gossypibomas, all sponges should be counted at least twice (once preoperatively and once postoperatively); use of small sponges should be avoided during laparotomy, and only sponges with radiopaque markers should be used. The surgeon should explore the abdomen before closure. In cases in which the sponge count is uncertain, an abdominal x-ray should be performed before closure.

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