Surgical implants may NOT be sterile: Artificial knees and pacemakers become ridden with bacteria and fungi once they have been inserted into patients’ bodies
- Once in patients’ bodies, 70% of screws and pacemakers become colonised
- None of the study’s participants showed any signs of infection
- Researchers claim the microorganisms could be dangerous or even beneficial
- Bacteria or fungi colonisation takes place in the body not before implantation
- Further research is required to determine how the microorganisms get there
Surgical implants may not be sterile, new research suggests.
Once put into patients’ bodies, some 78 per cent of screws, artificial knees and pacemakers have bacteria or fungi living on them, a Danish study found.
Although none of the study’s participants showed any signs of infection, the researchers warn such microorganisms can trigger inflammation, which could lead to symptoms, such as pain and swelling.
They add, however, these bacteria and fungi may actually boost health, like the gut’s microbiome.
Up to two per cent of implants in the US and UK become infected, which is the main reason they have to be removed.
Surgical implants may not be sterile, new research suggests (stock)
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WHAT REALLY GOES ON IN OPERATING THEATRES?
Surgeons and their assistants argue, flirt, throw things across the room and poke fun at their patients while they are under the knife, research suggested in July 2018.
The social structure of a surgical team has even been compared to that of a family of monkeys.
A researcher from Emory University, Atlanta, sat in on 200 operations and recorded 6,348 conversations.
She found just over one in every 40 interactions between surgical staff is a fight or argument.
Staff also throw rubbish across the room into bins, dance to music and rub each other’s legs flirtatiously.
One reportedly called an unconscious patient ‘gigantic’ and said they would need 10 people to move her.
Another stormed out of an operating room when an assistant accidentally squirted him in the eye with bodily fluids from an infectious patient.
The study suggests status and ‘ego’ is a main cause of arguments in the theatre, which are most likely to occur when high-ranking male surgeons try to exert their dominance.
The main surgeons are almost always responsible, being the cause of 118 out of 175 arguments in the investigation.
How the research was carried out
Researchers, from the University of Copenhagen, analysed 106 implants and their surrounding tissue from different uninfected patients.
The implants included screws, artificial knees and pacemakers, which were collected from five hospitals in Denmark’s capital city.
They were taken from patients whose implants failed to bond to their bones or were related to the bones in theirs skulls and faces, healed fractures or those who had recently died.
The implants were in people’s bodies for an average of 13 months.
The researchers also analysed sterile implants in the lab that were implanted into a patient and then shortly removed. These served as the experiment’s controls.
None cause infections
Results suggest 66 per cent of implants are colonised with bacteria and 40 per cent with fungi, none of which are pathogens.
The control implants had no bacteria or fungi on them, which suggests colonisation takes place once they are in the body.
Further research is required to determine how bacteria and fungi emerge on implants and the effects they have.
Screws are often close to the skin and in direct contact with bone, which may be sources of colonisation, the researchers speculate.
The findings were published in the journal APMIS.
Once put into patients’ bodies, some 78 per cent of implants have bacteria on them (stock)
Surgical sponges were left in a woman for nine years
This comes after a report released last February revealed surgical sponges were left inside a woman up to nine years after her C-section.
The unnamed woman, 42, believed to be from Chiba in Japan, went to her doctor complaining of bloating that had lasted three years.
A scan revealed two gauze sponges had become attached to her large intestine and the tissue that connects the stomach to other parts of the abdomen.
Scientists believe the sponges were left behind after one of the patient’s two C-sections, which took place nine and six years ago.
Due to the sponges not being attached to her uterus, the patient would have been able to conceive a second time without problems.
Following the removal of the sponges, the patient’s symptoms improved. She was discharged five days after her surgery.
In the US, up to 6,000 surgical instruments are left inside patients’ bodies every year. Of which, around 70 per cent are sponges and the remainder items such as clamps.
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