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New technology helps surgeons avoid leaving supplies in patients

February 21, 2013 6:45:45 AM PST
Every year, about 4000 objects are left inside patients after surgery, usually they're sponges and gauze which can be tough to see once covered in blood. To make it safer for you, some hospitals are now using surgical sponges with a built-in microchip.

"This chip inside is the new technology and this helps ensure there are no sponges left in the body," said Dr. Alok Sharan, Spine Surgeon at Montefiore Medical Center.

Dr. Alok Sharan says at the end of every procedure, he waves that wand over the patient. It's looking for that microchip.

If the wand senses a microchip, it beeps telling the surgeon there may be a sponge that's still inside. If left inside, that sponge may go undetected for years, causing infections or scar tissue.

There are other safety checks in place in every operating room.

Nurses counts the sponges before and after the surgery.

But if the numbers don't match, everything stops.

So what would normally happen then is you bring the xray machine in, take a picture and make sure nothing is left inside.

Every surgical sponge and cloth has metallic thread that would show up on an x-ray.

The hope is that better technology can help patients avoid that whole x-ray process, having a microchip or bar code information embedded inside can tell surgeons immediately if something's left inside you or not.

"It's very quick and it gives us all the information we need instantaneously," adds Dr. Sharan.

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