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Surg Endosc. 2007 Jul;21(7):1235-7. Epub 2007 May 5.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) applied to surgical sponges.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE, USA.


Use of gauze sponges that have been embedded with passive radio frequency identification (RFID) tags presents a high probability of reducing or eliminating instances of gossypiboma, or retained surgical sponge. The use of human counts during surgical operations, especially during instances where unexpected or emergency events occur, can result in errors where surgical instruments, most often gauze sponges, are retained within the patient's body, leading to complications at a later date. Implementation of an automatic inventory record system, for instance, RFID, may greatly reduce these incidences by removing the human factor and would improve patient safety by eliminating the current sponge count protocol. Experiments performed by placing RFID-labeled sponges within an animal and removing them have demonstrated that tags are at least partially readable inside the body cavity and fully readable once removed, suggesting the possibility of an automated sponge count system pending further development of this technology.

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