The bloated stomach of a Japanese woman turned out to be another case of the medical malpractice of leaving things inside a patient's body after surgery.

Doctors found that surgical sponges were left inside the body of the 42-year-old woman and that they had been there for at least six years.

Surgical Sponges Left Inside Woman's Body

A 42-year-old woman told doctors in a visit to a primary care clinic that she has been suffering from a bloated stomach for three years. The cause of the bloating in her lower abdomen was likely not due to just gas or something she ate due to the length of time that she had been experiencing discomfort.

Upon examination, doctors felt two masses located near the woman's left and right hip bones. A CT Scan of the abdomen revealed that the two masses contained "hyperdense, stringy structures," as stated in the report that was published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

The woman went through another operation to have the two masses removed, which the doctors found in the spaces between the abdominal wall and colon known as the paracolic gutters. When the masses were cut open, the doctors found gauze sponges encased within "thick, fibrous walls."

The conclusion of the doctors was that the surgical sponges were left inside the woman's body after a caesarian section. The woman underwent the procedure twice, one six years ago and one nine years ago. During a C-section, a surgeon may place sponges in the paracolic gutters so that the intestines will not get in the way during the procedure.

It was unclear which procedure resulted in the surgical sponges being left inside the woman's body. In any case, it meant that they were inside her for at least six years.

After the surgical sponges were removed from her body, the woman's abdominal bloating disappeared, and she was discharged from the hospital after five days.

Medical Malpractice During Surgery

The case was a rare one in Japan, as many, but not all, hospitals and clinics in the country perform imaging procedures on the abdomen of patients before closing surgical wounds to make sure that nothing is left inside the patient's body.

However, there are other cases of medical malpractice related to surgery. In December, a woman filed a lawsuit against a hospital after a surgeon allegedly took nude pictures of her while she was undergoing surgery. Last month, a plastic surgeon was arrested after showing up drunk for a scheduled operation, and another surgeon was fined nearly $14,000 for branding his initials on his patients' livers using an argon beam.

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