As long as nonabsorbable materials are used in the manufacture of surgical gauze, the specter of the retained sponge or laparotomy pack will continue to be a nightmare to the practicing surgeon. With surprising ease difficult to appreciate, an operative instrument or pack may disappear from sight while the mind and hands of the operator are preoccupied with the operative procedure. Such unfortunate accidents are known to have occurred even with skilled surgeons working under the most favorable conditions. The relative paucity of reports on the subject is easy to understand in view of the stigma and medicolegal liability implied in the admission of the technical oversight.
The clinical and radiological features of the retained sponge can be understood in the light of the surgical pathology. The body reacts to the foreign substance by inflammation that may be of an aseptic fibrinous type, producing adhesions and encapsulation, or