A protocol to recover needles lost during minimally invasive surgery

Rajiv Jayadevan, Kristian Stensland, Alexander Small, Simon Hall, Michael Palese

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background and Objectives: The loss of an instrument during a surgical procedure is a potentially dangerous medical event. Retained surgical needles are reported to cause chronic pain, chronic irritation, and organ injury. Surgical needles lost during minimally invasive surgery are particularly difficult to retrieve because of their diminutive size and the camera’s limited visual field, often prompting protracted recovery attempts that can add to surgical costs. Few detailed recommendations exist for the recovery of a misplaced needle. Methods: A survey was administered to minimally invasive surgeons across the United States to glean observations on the incidence of lost surgical needles and recovery techniques. Survey results were incorporated into an evidence-based protocol designed to expedite the recovery of lost surgical needles. Results: Three hundred five minimally invasive surgeons from 11 surgical subspecialties completed the survey. Sixty- four percent of participants reported having experienced a lost surgical needle, with a minimum of 112 needles lost during the past 1 year alone. Urologists, pediatric surgeons, and bariatric surgeons reported higher rates of needle loss than surgeons practicing other subspecialties (P _.001). Removal of a needle through a minimally invasive port and laparoscopic suturing were the 2 most common situations resulting in lost needles. A systematic visual search, abdominal radiography, fluoroscopy, and the use of a magnetic retriever were reported as the most successful strategies for needle recovery. Conclusions: On the basis of survey results and current literature, our protocol incorporates a camera survey of the abdomen, intraoperative fluoroscopic radiography, port inspection, and a quadrant-based systematic visual search for the recovery of needles lost during minimally invasive surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2014.00165
JournalJournal of the Society of Laparoendoscopic Surgeons
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Protocol
  • Retrieval
  • Surgical needle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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