Surgical staples are considered in many situations to have more benefits than traditional sutures in large part because they give doctors the ability to move quickly and close skin wounds in difficult-to-reach places more easily. However, using them does come with risks.
In a lawsuit filed last year in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, a plaintiff stated a surgical stapler malfunctioned during her surgery, resulting in complications and a series of additional surgeries.
The plaintiff had undergone a laparoscopic right hemicolectomy surgery to remove possible malignant tissue from her colon. During the surgery, the doctor encountered some difficulties accessing the possible cancerous tissue. He decided to switch to an open procedure which called for making a larger incision.
During the procedure, the doctor removed a portion of the colon and used a Medtronic Endo 60 mm blue load stapler to close the tissues. Unfortunately, three days later, while recovering, she was forced to undergo emergency care due to an extreme amount of intra-abdominal fluid collection.
On a CT scan, the issue was determined at an opening in the tissues where the staples were placed during her original surgery. The operative report indicated that the problem was due “to an apparent staple malfunction.”
The good news is the Medtronic Endo stapler was recalled and no longer in surgical use. At the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), aware of a rise in surgical staple injuries, has made sweeping changes in its oversight of the surgical tools. The FDA issued guidelines for manufacturers and guidelines for doctors to follow when using surgical staplers.
However, individuals undergoing surgery must stay diligent about the dangers associated with surgical staplers and receive the correct follow-up care.
According to an article published by AZcentral.com, an infection from a surgery involving surgical staples can be caused by medical negligence by a doctor, improper care of the wound, tainted materials in the operating room, and even “a reaction to the metals used in the surgical staples.’’
Here are some signs of surgical stapler complications that require immediate medical attention:
- The development of new pain at the incision site
- Bleeding or red streaks moving from the incision site
- An incision that has reopened (with extra concern if there is any redness or swelling)
- A fever of more than 100 degrees that lasts more than four hours