Method and System for Identifying Retained Surgical Items

FCCC Ref. 500-RP


A retained surgical item (RSI) is any item that is inadvertently left in a patient’s body in an operative setting. According to the National Quality Forum, 2000-4000 RSI cases occur each year in the United States. The estimated cost to remove an RSI is over $63,000 per hospital stay and malpractice claims can reach millions of dollars. Hospitals have developed policies and recommendations to reduce the incidence of RSIs. A common policy is to obtain a portable film of the operative site to try and identify the RSI. The ability to detect the RSI using plain radiography has been reported in several published studies to be poor (33-50%). The poor detection rate is due to the images being obtained using portable techniques, in a single plane with an open surgical field. Typically, there are numerous expected clips, sponges, hemostats, etc., overlying the surgical field which can make it difficult to localize an unexpected item. The second issue, which contributes to the poor detection, is lack of a reference catalog of X-ray images of the instruments. The interpreting radiologist often struggles trying to rapidly identify a “clip house,” for example, when the radiologist may have no information regarding what a clip house looks like outside the patient. The incidence of retained items is ongoing and is a major health concern that impacts every operating room in the world.

Summary of the Invention

Dr. Rosaleen Parsons from Fox Chase Cancer Center developed a method and system of identifying RSIs, employing a central processing imaging facility that would digitally store images and measurements of all operating room items. Such system would serve as a reference to an image of a patient’s body part suspected of having RSI and could be stored in the institution’s PACS system.


  • Fast and reliable method for identifying retained surgical items in patient’s body during and after surgery.
  • The computer database of commonly used items could be customized to each hospital facility.

IP Status

Patent application has been filed.

For Partnering/Licensing information, please contact:
Inna Khartchenko, MSc, MBA
Director, Technology Transfer and New Ventures
Fox Chase Cancer Center
[email protected]