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Intrathoracic Gossypiboma: An Overlooked Entity

Sharifah A. Othman, Jihad Q. AlSafwani, Abdullah AlSahwan, Yasser Aljehani

(Thoracic Surgery Division, Department of Surgery, King Fahad Hospital of The University, College of Medicine, Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, Dammam, Saudi Arabia)

Am J Case Rep 2020; 21:e923992

DOI: 10.12659/AJCR.923992

BACKGROUND: During any surgical procedure, there are several factors that may lead to morbidity and mortality. One of those factors is a retained cotton or gauze surgical sponge inadvertently left in the body during an operation, known as gossypiboma. This clinical oversight may cause serious postoperative complications and increase the risk of mortality, particularly if left undiscovered. Furthermore, this issue adds to the economic burden on healthcare systems by increasing the rate of reoperation and rehospitalization. The length of postoperative gossypiboma diagnosis varies greatly, as patients may either present acutely with symptoms such as a palpable mass, pain, nausea, and vomiting, or remain asymptomatic for several years.
CASE REPORT: We report the case of a 48-year-old man who underwent a thoracotomy after a road traffic accident. The resulting empyema led to the intraoperative discovery of an intrathoracic gossypiboma, which was initially interpreted radiologically as a part of the previous surgical staple line. The causative agent was discovered by the team’s nurses during the postsurgical count of instruments and sponges, and who were alerted to a recovered sponge differing in appearance from the sponges used for that procedure.
CONCLUSIONS: In general, proper counting and adherence to the World Health Organization ‘Surgical Safety Checklist’ can greatly improve the outcome of any surgery. The diagnosis of gossypiboma is often late or missed entirely and leads to additional interventions that can be avoided or detected early when the material contains a radiopaque marker. In cases under suspicion of any mistakenly left object, the use of intraoperative radiology before skin closure is highly recommended to prevent postoperative complications for the patient and organization.

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